Monday, November 2, 2009

Kisses for Krispy Kreme...Not!

Just 'cuz they roughly look like the size and shape of a dog treat doesn't mean they actually are! Sooooooo, one hundred-odd dollars later, Krispy is a bit lethargic (from the meds) and my wallet is thinner, all because someone went hunting in a very unusual place and found a leftover, open bag of Kisses from Halloween. (Sigh.) This was so NOT how I intended to spend a chunk of my busy Monday afternoon...but I did. Krispy was most cooperative.
I had gone off to the grocery store for a half hour and left her to roam the house freely. If I'm gone longer, I confine her to the bedroom so she can feel completely safe and snug. Big mistake!

I got home approximately forty minutes later to find Krispy Kreme in her usual, excited mood, happy to see me. I began unloading the first bag of groceries while I let her frolic between the front yard (which she loves) and in the house by me in the kitchen. When I brought in the next load of groceries and moved one item out of the kitchen, I noticed the telltale ripped bag of Kisses on the floor. (The teeth marks are a dead giveaway.) And as a general rule, I never leave any food on or near the floor for the Little Princess to consume on her own time. OK, occasionally I forget to take up the cat's food, and Krispy may eat it. But most of the time she only goes after her own food.

At first, marginal panic: 'How much chocolate did she eat?!' I counted out the remaining pieces and my memory of what had been left in the bag. Then I gathered the tiny bits remaining on the floor. Putting on my best Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat, I examined the remaining bit of foil wrapping, chocolate bits and plastic wrap. Hmmmmm. Looked like she got part of one and most of another -- including the single almond inside and the white "Hershey's" flag streamer. Maybe not so devilishly toxic in such a small quantity. Hmmmm.

I called the vet, and after some discussion I agreed to bring Krispy in for monitoring and perhaps de-toxing. So now here we are a couple of hours later. She's sleeping under the file cabinet having been de-puked (not much, it turned out) and given active charcoal to attract the remaining chocolate in her system. Needless to say, the remaining Hershey's Kisses are now moved far, far away from anything she can reach.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Since I last posted Krispy has shown more and more of her personality. When left at home and I return from errands, she loves to greet me from the sofa near the front door with her little tail wagging. Very cute.

Since she’s quite the agile jumper, she loves hopping (with no effort!) onto the sofa and sometimes up onto the sofa back or table behind it. (This is discouraged! Too far from the ground – a dachshund’s natural territory!) She also continues to be quite a good hider. Since she’s frightened of loud noises (read: basketball bouncing noises across the street), she finds one of her safe places when she’s uncomfortable. Her #1 choice is the dirty laundry basket under my bed. Other favorites include under the dresser, in her crate, under the file cabinet. Here’s one of her favorite outdoor hiding spots:

Thankfully she’s gotten very good and coming right away when I call her from wherever she’s hidden herself in the yard. She knows now I begin to panic if I don’t see her right away. Often she’s out there eating the cat poop. Not particularly attractive. But obviously she considers it gourmet dining. (The joys of having feral cats in the neighborhood and Emily to keep providing “fertilizer” for the yard!)

Krispy’s most recent quirk to appear is fear of windshield wipers. We’ve had the first of our heavy rains. And she wanted to go out for her (nearly) daily car ride. (I am ridiculously indulgent!) And so I put her in her car seat. I turned on the wipers as I was backing out of the driveway and she nearly jumped out of her seat (to which she was tethered) to get away from the moving arms. Okaaaaaaaaaaaay, perhaps we will only use the ‘intermittent’ setting today…. This will take more practice. So I wonder what idiosyncrasy will show itself next?

Getting Good Manners

Krispy is on week #3 of Good Manners class. It is full of challenges. To start with she has no interest in treats as a motivator to follow commands. She ignores them when I hold them directly in front of her nose. She has yet to take even one during class, but she will take a few if she’s hungry when we practice…sometimes…. Second, she’s progressively less terrified by the other dogs in class with each session. She shook like a leaf through most of the first group class and always kept an eye on the exit, which she pulled hard towards most of the session. She isn’t the smallest one, but she’s definitely the shortest in the group. (The “down” command is completely foreign to her, and I can commiserate. I mean, really, she’s already down close to the ground! Why would she want to get closer?) And “sit” is hit and miss. Sometimes she will and sometimes she won’t. But this week she was a bit calmer with the classmates being in the same room with her. So we are making a bit of progress. And she always does well with the “Come” command since she wants to be near me. She even held her seat quite well for “Stay” as I walked around her.

The bottom line is that I think she’s very distracted by all the noises, people and dogs swirling around her in the foreign location. But she’ll have to get used to that. And she’s quite responsive of many of the commands (or does them on her own without command) on her own time. I think the biggest hurdle is translation: She’s bright and gets what she’s supposed to do instinctively. But now she has to translate what she knows to match the language of commands, which is very complicated to her. One day the switch will go on and she’ll get it all like Star Trek’s universal translator.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Roll, Roll, Roll in the Hay!

Krispy Kreme seems happiest while enjoying a good the grass, that is. Sorry, no video equipment for full documentation of this pleasurable pursuit. But you'll get the idea below.

"Roll, roll! Roll in the hay!"
Krispy's fondness for rolling always makes me think of Teri Garr's bit from Young Frankenstein. I have yet to figure out how to post .wav files here on the blog, but you can hear her line (and many other famous lines from Mel Brooks' fabulous movie) here: (You'll have to scroll down through the files (alphabetical) to roll-in.wav to run the sound byte.)

Repeat steps 1. through 3. again...and again...and again....
I think I've got it now! Just once more to the other side again!
Ooooooooooooooo! This rolling stuff is just great.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, there's just nothing better than a good roll!
Mmmmmmmmm, this is sooooooooo relaxing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Love My New Collar!

Do you like my new collar?

I really loooooooove my new collar!

Do you really, really like my new collar?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Baby On Board!

Krispy came through her whole conehead ordeal with flying colors. There were only the first few days I really had to be concerned about her chewing or gnawing away at her stitches and staples during which she could have ripped open the incisions. After that Mother Nature seemed to have done her job. Krispy pretty much lost interest in them and didn’t mind the discomfort. She was even in and out of the vet’s office in the blink of an eye when it came time to remove the staples altogether. She must be quite cooperative with the staff! (The stitches were of the dissolving type and have slowly melted away.)

Only a day after the staples were removed Krispy got to go on a big adventure: She got to go on a long drive to the Vallejo Ferry Terminal to meet visiting family. She had expressed a great deal of interest during the past few weeks in the car – specifically, she seemed to want to go on car rides. She would actually go to the garage door and paw at it. When I relented and opened the garage door, she’d go to the passenger door, wanting to get inside. Very clear. So Ginny’s old car seat was dusted off and put into the car for Krispy’s use. This activity was very exciting for Krispy, getting to watch the scenery go by at high speed.

Now Krispy’s enjoying her new activity (car rides are frequently requested in the usual manner when she goes out) and along comes a boatload of visiting family. And she hasn’t been too keen on strangers from the get-go. But I’d done a lot of advance prep, talking to her about who was coming to visit and how long they would be staying. So she took to the extended crowd very well – even when she had to do it at my brother’s house for the large, party gatherings. Upon arrival she’d usually make a beeline to return to my car. But if she had a nice spot that was hers – under my chair, or behind me on a chair – she could relax and be comfortable not showing signs of anxiety. Here she is resting on the divan:

She looks a bit anxious, and she did get a bit freaked out from time to time. The biggest problem with photographing your own dog is that they have absolutely no understanding of the importance of pretending the camera isn’t there. As soon as she’d see me with the camera or come back from another room with it, she’d come running to see me. Thus, she’d completely wreck the candid composition I was trying to capture of her. *Sigh* Here’s a good example:

I wanted to get another angle of her relaxing on the sofa, but something else grabbed her attention and she stood up, ready to jump off the sofa. (Oh, no! Dachshunds shouldn’t jump off sofas! Yeah, right…. Like I can stop her every single time for the next dozen years!) Once she was looking over the back of the sofa towards the front door. (I was carrying a load of things out to my car.) I told her clearly (she understands English, right?) that I was coming back in to get her and not to worry. Well, before I could even turn ninety degrees to go out she’d leaped off the back of the sofa to chase after me. Well, guess a change in strategy was necessary. Needless to say, she went out to the car in the first armload – not the last one!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Krispy the Konehead

Krispy got her tubes tied on Monday (among other minor procedures). She did well but was groggy the remainder of the day. The doctor warned that she’d be instinctively trying to scratch the itches of the stitches and staples on her belly. (No luck getting them to do these serious underbelly procedures via the back of her neck where she can’t reach to scratch!) Sure enough, when I turned around for just a moment, Miss K was all teeth at work on the temporary staples. Grrrrrrrrrrr! I neatly flipped her over (gently) and swabbed away with hydrogen peroxide to clean up the irritated tissue. Where did I put that cone?

There’s nothing quite like the feel-bad status of the family dog to make you give up on those set-in-stone rules. OK, she can sleep in the bed while she’s in recovery. After all, if she stays in her crate, with the cone on, she’ll be banging against the sides of the crate all night trying to get it off so she can scratch the itch. I'd never get any sleep. So for purely self-preservation reasoning, I opted to let Krispy spend her first night in bed. And she did just fine. No attempts (that I can remember) to lick or chew the incisions. No middle-of-the-night wandering or restlessness.

On Tuesday it really sunk in that I was going to need to change my plans for the week. Although Krispy didn’t need 24/7 attention, she was not to be trusted not to pick at the incisions. I did not want a visit to the vet to re-do stitches or staples! Having located the cone Monday evening, I now had to find an appropriate collar on which to attach it. With great difficultly I slipped it on Krispy, trying not to jostle her too much less than 24 hours after surgery. I fastened the buckle and stood back. Krispy looked as if I just made her life twice as miserable. What was this giant thing I attached to her head? How could I? It’s heavy. I can’t move my head properly!

I was attempting a dry run to see if I was going to be able to make a run to the grocery store. She moved around the office floor awkwardly, as if I’d just attached a ten pound weight to her head. She was very discombobulated! To make matters worse, the weirdness of the cone put her into a bit of a panic attack as she worked feverishly to remove it. I found out quickly I hadn’t tightened the collar well enough since she proceed to pull it over and off her head. Oh, well.

With one dry run of Krispy the Konehead down – none too successful—I opted to wait until she’d calmed down before trying Konehead 2.0. And to make matters worse, on Krispy’s first full day home from the hospital, she had no interest in food or drink and remained fairly groggy (except when suited up with La Kone). I waited another day before attempting a grocery store run when I could Konehead and Krate her.

The best sign was when she consented to eat a full meal late Tuesday night. On Wednesday she was rebounding. Her energy was returning, and she started to gingerly test out the front stoop stairs by herself. There remained minor attempts to lick or chew at her stitches, but most of the time she was good at refraining from the gnaw.

The bulk of each day was spent with Krispy in my lap from morning to evening. This was and is a bit trying on the leg muscles, requiring shifting my four-legged lap warmer from one side to another when one or the other hip or knee gets sore. Why don’t dogs know their butts are sliding off your lap? Can’t they feel they aren’t there a hundred percent? Is it because dachshunds are so long? Is the message not getting from the back end – so far away – up to the brain? I shifted her again so I didn’t have to squeeze my knees together to keep her in place….

Further Konehead attempts were met with better results but also posed new problems. Krispy was a like a broken bobble-head. Most often the cone dragged on the floor when she walked. And then she’d run into something (a little peripheral vision problems with this thing) and get stuck. The cone’s bottom edge got stuck under a table leg. She got stuck against the coffee table. Against the door jamb of the bedroom. Under the bed. And against the side of the crate. She was flummoxed to be sure!

On Thursday she got a slightly better handle on using the cone. She looked more like a functional bobble-head when she trotted towards me with the cone swinging from side to side in her gait. She almost had it down to a science…until its edge caught on another piece of furniture. Phoom! Then she was unexpectedly stopped in her tracks. I guess dogs really aren’t set up well to adjust their spatial relationship thinking for the completely different size of a cone. The problem would repeat, but she didn’t recognize it or make any effort to learn how to correct it.

It’s another five to eight days before the stitches and staples come out, so more cone-time will be in order. In the meantime, it’s a lot of lap time. But as each day passes, the incisions heal better and better so I have less worry about having to start over from torn (or chewed) stitches. And with family visiting over the weekend, there will be more eyes to help watch Krispy the Konehead keep away from the licking and chewing activities that are…inappropriate. Take a look.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hide 'n' Seek

The first rule of having a dachshund, as opposed to any other dog breed, is to remember to look down. They are a long, long way down from an adult human’s standard field of vision, somewhere from four to seven feet off the ground. When Ginny was in her final years I didn’t have to worry too much about looking down. She didn’t move around very much or very often. When she did, it was very slow and with great deliberation. She knew where I was around the house, and I knew which one of her many beds she was curled up in at any given time. So there was no stumbling over someone only ankle high.

Along comes Miss Krispy Kreme, a young spring chicken, per se, and she moves like lightening – but silent. And unlike Quincy, who’s always had a nice clickety-clickety-clickety-click going on with his nails across the hardwood floor, Krispy seems to be in stealth mode. Her nails rarely make much noise. They’re not particularly short, but I never notice them when she walks or runs. The advantage of hearing those nails is that you don’t always have to look down to know where Quincy is in the room. Krispy, on the other hand, vanishes and appears (under your feet) like a magician! Presto! Ta-da! (Round of applause.)

Countless times I have looked around for her or called to her, only to be surprised moments later when I realize she’s been standing next to me the whole time. I’ll be sure she’s sitting across the room, or in the next room, and look back to see her or to call and there will be no one there. I will walk back to investigate only to find nothing. Then I’ll turn around and wham! There she is. Nearly underfoot. I didn’t hear or see a thing. How did she get there? Then I feel guilty for not having looked down in the first place. I must retrain myself. We don’t train them. They train us.

“Krispy?” I search. I check her crate. Empty. I check her favorite pillow under my bed. Unoccupied. I walk out to the living room. Silence. I look everywhere: kitchen, bathroom, guest room, office. Nada. I return to the bedroom. I hear a faint rustling. I look under the bed and see nothing. Another rustle. I bend down again and catch a movement in the corner of my eye in the darkness. My eyes dilate and adjust to the darkness under the bed. I begin to make out the outline of a distinctively dachshund head and ears…in the laundry basket.

Now, there’s only a few inches of clearance between the rim of the basket and the underside of the bed frame – barely enough room for me to reach my hand under the bed and throw a garment into the bin. That’s all. Tiny space. But there she is. Wallowing in the stinky clothes. Happy as a clam. (Do we know if clams can be happy?)

It’s forever a wonder at what makes a dog happy. It’s secluded. It’s her personal space. It’s safe. The dirty linen is soft and supple – an excellent bed for any four-legged pet. But, after all, they do have amazing noses. So many smells to consider…. Maybe it’s Chanel No. 5 to Krispy?
Krispy Kreme in the laundry basket under the bed

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Krispy Tizzy, Bang! Bang!

For Krispy Kreme, the Fourth of July fireworks might as well have been the Landing at Normandy …by Hannibal’s Army… and she was on the beach (figuratively) in search of a bunker! Krispy had just emerged from her safe haven under my bed, having woken from a refreshing early evening nap. And just as she snuggled up with me to enjoy the last of a Clive Owen flick in the living room, the siege began. It started innocuously enough with a few pops, whizzes and bang, bang! Though not unusually loud at my humble abode (approximately a mile from the festivities), the booming effects of the fireworks finale sent Krispy into quite a tizzy.

We had gone out for a stroll on the lawn (the dachshund equivalent of a night cap) before it started, but then the show began and her leash snapped taut. She wanted out of the yard and down the street -- fast. She was off like a shot (pun intended), out the gate, and across the parking pad with me in tow. After previous jaunts at top speed (in a similarly panicked state of mind), I had a firm grip on the leash with the loop around my wrist.

I’m forever amazed at the strength of small pets. It would be so embarrassing to lose a tug of war with a ten-pound doxie. But she was determined to go, go, go! …Anywhere but there. And with her track record, I was determined to do the opposite: We were not leaving the compound. If she accidentally broke loose in the dark, that would be the last I’d see my four-legged sweetie. I opted to pick her up and bring her into the house rather than wrestle with her on-leash. (What if she pulled out of her harness? What if the leash or harness hardware snapped out of the sewn seams? It was better to haul myself in to her on a taut leash than the reverse – a bit like heaving-to in a small sailboat rather than combat gale-force winds. You can hold position but at least not feel like you may capsize at any moment. And Krispy can be a force to be reckoned with!)

Once again indoors with slightly muffled bangs and booms going on outside, Krispy proceeded to do her usual panicked run-walk. She sped back and forth from the bedroom (where her crate and under-bed safe haven are) to the front door or couch, over and over. This quickly escalated into greater panic as she jumped in my arms and then immediately wiggled to get out of them, repeating over and over. She kept trying to find better hiding spots, attempting to squeeze under shorter and shorter furniture, even running behind the toilet in the bathroom for refuge. At this point I opted to put her in her crate and stayed with her for some time to alleviate her fears. (The last thing I needed was for her to squeeze under (or behind) some piece of furniture that I couldn’t later move – or that she couldn’t extricate herself from.)

The crate, of course, did help calm her. But the process of alleviating her fears took more than an hour since the fireworks show ran quite long and various illegal fireworks continued to be set off around the neighborhood after that. In the crate she could console herself with the tight quarters and roof overhead. (Swaddling for dachshunds?)

When it was all over she left the crate of her own volition to seek me out. I gave her time and space to choose her own emergence back into the taller world. I would have been willing to bet while the fireworks were going on that she would have preferred sharing a den with a badger than being anywhere above ground. Ah, the life of a dachshund!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Euphoria in the Euphorbia

Euphoria in the Euphorbia
Twisting around on her back in play, Krispy's 'kingdom of solitude' is in the Euphorbia bush. Upon returning home from a walk, or if she's feeling a wee bit stressed, she makes a beeline for one of her favorite safe spots in the yard. Her other favorite safe space doesn't permit any photography. The long and dense leaves of the Kniphobia (Red Hot Poker) create a roof over a lovely spot she's dug out to hide in. Once she created this haven, now Quincy likes to use it, too. The earth is cool, shaded, and the space so low and overgrown that nary a human can get in there to retrieve them!

"I have to streeeeeeeeeeeeeetch!"

A favorite pose seen most often in the morning after emerging from her crate, Krispy ensures the dachshund lives up to its reputation as the loooooooooonnnngest dog around. In fact, Miss Krispy Kreme does seem exceptionally long -- even for a dachshund!

"Shhhhhhhhhhh! I'm resting...."
Like all good dogs, Krispy is quite fond of resting on a favorite couch...usually next to me. Given her long legs, long back and gazelle-like leaping skills, she deftly jetés (like Baryshnikov) from floor to couch, or chair, seemingly effortlessly through the air.

Share and Share Alike!
Though not a pretty picture (I tried!), Emily and Krispy get along well and seem willing to share lap space. It is not unusual for one or the other of them to decide my lap should be more accommodating. (It's a good thing I'm not into Great Danes as pets!) Either Krispy or Emily will make room for herself where none existed before in order to achieve 'lapiness'!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Just when you think you’ve got it all under control… WHAM! The universe knocks you back down, mocking you with its “Gotcha! You are so not in charge of things here!” Thus, a perfectly lovely day yesterday got blown out of the water when Krispy spooked on a short walk near my house.

All it took was one little misstep, one hiccup in the rhythm of our leisurely walk. One of us stopped or tripped or she had to smell something and my end of the leash pulled out of my hand to the sidewalk. That was when the perfect storm occurred. In less than half a second, as I was reaching (quickly) to pick it up, Krispy realized she wasn’t connected to me. She didn’t move in that first half a second, but I’m guessing she saw the look on my face that betrayed my seeming calm but actually looking like instant panic. I saw immediately in her face and behavior that she’d spotted my tell and was going to take me for a ride.

I tried to call her using my best Cesar Milan-style pack leader command as she turned on (all four) heels back towards home at a good clip. No dice. Then I tried to sound all sweet as if I had a treat to give her. Yeah, right! All of this took place within a few seconds while she was putting on speed towards the busy street. I had long given up my loose sandals to run after her. Thankfully she hung a sharp right at the street corner to head south back home. I must say it’s a scientific mystery to me how a dog with eight inch long legs can out run me at top speed.

I’m not exactly out of shape. When the sidewalk ended about 250 feet to the south, she moved onto the middle of the road. My worst nightmare! But I had anticipated this when she turned south on the sidewalk. So I had already run in the road myself to (hopefully) head her off. (And I knew that section of sidewalk she’d just raced over was littered with pebbles and debris – very unfriendly to running in my bare feet.)

So here we are both sprinting down a busy Napa street. I’ll leave out the scary details of Krispy galloping full-bore down Terrace Drive while I raced at my top speed after her – still not as fast as the little vixen herself. I’m sure I looked quite a sight running down the middle of the road, waving at all the traffic in Krispy’s moving-target path.

She had increased the distance between us to a full block. I had no idea how I was going to catch up with her as she would shortly be out of view over the crest in the hill. Then my neighbor drove by me (while I was still running), and he called out that he’d go after her and hit the gas to pull ahead towards her.

It was around this time I started to run out of steam; I’d been going at top speed for about a quarter of a mile watching Krispy‘s little red leash wiggle and snake behind her on the asphalt. And though it wasn’t a particularly hot day, this was also the time I began to realize the asphalt was blazing hot. So hot, in fact, that I’d have to get off the road. I spotted a patch of dirt and mown dead grass along the shoulder. (This section of Terrace Drive has no sidewalks.) And as I veered off the road into the short grass feeling my feet would shortly burst into flames, a couple who had been watching the whole drama unfold from a southern point on the road asked if the dog was mine. I nodded out of breath.

“I didn’t see where she went,” I told them sucking in chunks of air.

“Your dog turned up the driveway,” the man gestured behind me.

I turned around and started back a few feet to the weed-choked dirt drive. I also noticed my neighbor’s black SAAB pulled into the drive which I hadn’t seen in my race down the street. And as I walked a few feet up towards the house and car looking for Krispy I saw my neighbor, David, walking back from the rear of the property towards the car with the dog in his arms.

Relief! Success! “How did you catch her?” and “You are a life saver!” and “Thank G*d you were driving by!” If he hadn’t been going out on an errand at just that moment in time, I would still be chasing after Krispy…as she ran…on her way…to San Jose.

Postscript: Krispy Kreme is now curled up in my lap asleep. Obedience training is starting soon! My feet have big, big blisters on them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Girl Under the Filing Cabinet

First, remove the visual concept of the metal filing cabinet that goes to the floor. Ain’t happening here! My filing cabinet is wood with cabriole legs. So it sits six plus inches off the floor. (See the June 6 "Hide 'n Seek" post’s photo for reference.)

Second, imagine my little doxie begging to be let up in my lap while I work: The endless nose nuzzles; the little hind legs’ continuous hopping; and her little tail wagging away in earnest. It’s hard to say “no” to such cuteness. Nevertheless, sitting on my lap often means further attempts by a certain doxie to breach the desk top. We need no dachshunds on sentry monitoring the parapet! It’s a looooooooooooooonnnnnnnnng way to the floor. So if I must say “no” to my lap, does she curl up in the bed provided next to me on the floor? No!

I hear this light scraping sound, and whoosh! She’s gone out of sight! Where…? Under the filing cabinet next to me, of course. She loves this little safety zone. Wastebasket’s on one side, floor lamp’s on the other. Nice cool ceramic tiling. She’s completely tucked away, safe as…well…a hot dog in a bun! (Ha! Ha! Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

How can they like this, though??? We humans dislike ceilings lower than eight feet. We start to feel claustrophobic. Imagine the same ceiling just above your head – or just above your head while sitting at a desk or your sofa. Yuck! Yes, doxies are definitely wired differently. They like their fox holes and their caves.

This is not to say that she doesn’t get LOTS of lap time. She does. Krispy frequently is willing to curl up in my lap while I work at my desk. And like all lap dogs, you then absolutely don’t want to disrupt them to get up for a glass of water. Anything not to disturb the Sleeping Beauty! But, alas, at some point…awwwwwww. Sorry-to-bother-you-but-I-need-to-stretch! And the guilt for disturbing them settles in…. And the great saucer-shaped eyes beg,"Pleeeeeeeeze! Can I sit in your lap some more??”

“Krispy, I have to work,” I explain, assuming she understands English perfectly well. (Ha!) And she nuzzles her nose in again while dancing on her back legs, but I hold my ground (or rather, my seat). And what do I hear?

Scrape, scrape, whoosh! That’s the girl under the filing cabinet.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Unleash the Hounds!

Actually, that would probably be a very bad idea given the players, but it makes for a nice entry title. I have Mr. Quincy, my mom’s wirehaired doxie, for a week. Over the weekend I was walking Mr. Q and Miss Krispy and lamenting their contrasting walking styles. Krispy has adapted to leash walking quite well. (We don’t really know how much leash experience she had in her first four plus years living in a kennel in Paso Robles. Maybe none, maybe some.) But when I first got her and started on walks, she responded quite well to basic commands (although not completely consistently yet). And, best of all, she’s not a puller. She’s pretty good at merely setting a nice, brisk pace or matching mine comfortably.

The Q-ster is another matter. Perhaps boy dogs just operate differently. Of course, he has to mark everything. That’s okay. But he has a host of walking idiosyncrasies that can get annoying. First up is the constant pulling. It’s like a small child going, “But why, Daddy?” over and over and over and over again on a long car ride. And if he’s not pulling me forward, he’s on the other end behind me, refusing to keep pace. This is particularly predominant during the warmer parts of the day. Quincy seems to tire more easily than Krispy AND he prefers the shade. Once he finds a patch of shade from a tree on the path, he wants to stay and rest for a bit. So I end up with him racing and pulling ahead for awhile, straining on the leash. Then I have to pull him when he won’t leave the shade that is now behind us. (Sigh.)

Lest I give the impression that Krispy is an angel on-leash and Quincy is the opposite, let me assure you neither is all one or the other. They’re dachshunds. They like to stop and smell. It’s in their DNA, so I don’t fight that. And Krispy, being the new girl, can completely freak out upon seeing or hearing a big dog within close proximity, running back and forth or in funky circles at a dizzying pace straining on the leash. It actually looks like she’s having a panic attack. So I know I’ve got work to do with her on this problem.

Quincy also has a propensity to bark like crazy at strangers met along the path. Of course, when possible I’ll cross the street or walk another way to avoid both of these situations that stress the dogs. And further leash training is in the works to overcome these problems. I keep forgetting to take treats on the walks. Quincy responds to them, and Krispy is only now beginning to accept a few treats of any kind. But they both need more positive reinforcement for the good leash behavior.

Comments and suggestions? I’m open to ideas! And, yes, I will be walking them separately this week too. There are only so many Twister-like positions I’m willing to be stretched into from opposite directions as they each follow their own interests. And doing The Dog (yoga) in the middle of the sidewalk is not one of them.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hide ‘n’ Seek

“Krispy?” No answer. “Krispy?” No answer.

Nothing makes the heart race uncontrollably like feeling the time pass each and every second as you realize you don’t know where your dog’s gone. Krispy’s first hiding trick was discovering there’s enough room under my bed to set up a separate apartment. She’d found Ginny’s old ramp tucked underneath with a big cushion on it. This made for an excellent hiding space and new ‘safe’ zone in my dachshund’s world.

She slept there for hours. When she’d first arrived she had so much sensory stimulation from the new home, new yard, new dog to play with (Quincy), new cat (Emily) and new mom (me), that she’d quickly become exhausted like a baby. But as she grew in comfort each day she didn’t need the extra-long naps (nor my checkups on her, poking my head under the bed skirt to see if she was there on her newfound cushion).

“Krispy?” No answer. She wasn’t under the bed. Hmmmmmmmm? The clock officially started ticking. She’s eleven pounds and a couple feet long – at least that’s how it seems. Bigger than Ginny (former four-legged housemate) with a longer nose, legs and back, I couldn’t imagine where she could hide. And, at that moment, I was really certain she hadn’t snuck outside. I’d been very careful about that.

So now I was checking the spots where Ginny had last been hidden in the house during her earth-bound time (although I don’t think ‘hiding’ was intentional on her part: the senior dementia had ‘diverted’ her to these new locations in the house). Not behind the armchairs. Not circling in the guest room or stuck behind a piece of furniture. Not in the office or kitchen. Tick tock, tick tock. Checked under the bed again….

Really! It’s a tiny cottage. There just aren’t many places to hide in this small place. …Eeeoooowww! …Under the dresser in the bedroom. How did she do that? There’s less than six inches under the bottom of the cabinet between the support legs. She slithered out upon seeing me. How did she do that?! Her legs are eight inches high at the shoulder. Her rib cage can’t be that flexible. …But it was. So now she’s added more hiding places to her repertoire. In the office, she’ll occasional flatten herself down to squeeze under a small filing cabinet. See?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"She's Resting in the Euphorbia"


Within the first half hour of her life with me, Miss Krispy Kreme had located a space the size of a pea under my brother’s yard gate and shot to freedom. She could seemingly shrink, like Alice through a keyhole, to the smallest possible size to magically disappear in no time flat! Thankfully my brother lived at the end of a cul-de-sac, but there were a couple of cars…moving slowly…on the street. So I was able to signal them while Krispy ran like a gazelle – leapt, really – to nowhere since she didn’t know the neighborhood. Fortunately there were a variety of neighbors out in their yards and one was able to catch her while she was going full speed before disaster struck.

Having really worked my cardio (which was already in pretty good shape) chasing after my new girl and then feeling my panicked and racing heartbeat begin its descent to normal, the decision had been made for me: Krispy would need a Maximum Security Dachshund Fence.

Fast forward a week: Krispy Kreme, so named for her lovely English Cream longhaired coat of fur, was resting comfortably and partially hidden by the Euphorbia bush. It was more than twice her height. And there really wasn’t room for her in the bush. But as she had done under the blasted gate, she made room for herself. She had explored some of the yard earlier: the grass – always tickly to the tummy, the flagstone walkway (easy on the feet) and pebble path along the lavender allée – best place to pee. The euphorbia bush wasn’t really an ideal place to rest given the somewhat stiff branches and leathery leaves, but she obviously found it safe and comforting in the great outdoors at Casa Marcine. Nestled in the center, she was almost completely masked from view except for the bit of red leash sticking out from her trail to the “secret spot.”

“Where’s Krispy?” someone asked. She had been following me from the rose bushes, where I’d been pruning back the shoots sticking out from the front of the climbers and pushing the long tendrils behind the trellis slats to aid in structure development. And then I worked on the low-lying periwinkle/vinca minor to trim off all the shoots overhanging the flagstone walkway. At each station Krispy had sat patiently (or stretched the leash a bit to explore) while I worked yard maintenance (known occasionally as “gardening”).

Krispy seemed to enjoy following me around and could not yet be trusted to stay within the yard off-leash with my “pass-through” style fence that permitted all manner of animals (mostly small ones) to in- and e-gress the premises with great ease. Cats particularly were fond of this elegant, but semi-useless fence because they could leap through with no effort.

Originally designed to keep the aging Miss Ginny “in” but permit unobstructed views of the garden from without, the half-dozen lateral redwood two-by-twos were arranged Mission-style with equidistant spacing approximately sixteen inches high – just enough for a mini-dachshund to stand on hind legs and long for whatever’s on the other side. The top lateral rail then caps the fence at thirty-something inches in height. There’s gobs of room for a cat, dog or adrenaline-infused opossum to pass through between the top of the two-by-twos and the heavy top rail.

The fence project has yet to be undertaken but supplies have been purchased. In the meantime, her recent Houdini behavior meant she’d need supervised exercise in the yard. Fortunately, no guard towers with revolving beam lights are required to ensure Miss Krispy Kreme stays in the yard. She was very happy to walk or sit by me as I worked the local pruning scene, pitching bits of vinca or rose cane into the yard scraps bin.

And there she was: She’d explored the carpet of vinca that was shoulder high – dachshund shoulder high. Oh! What’s this? She seemed to be indicating. I can disappear in this funky green jungle; how perfect! “She’s resting in the Euphorbia,” I answered. Everyone had already been trained to keep an eagle eye out for her location. We wanted no further surprises since that unpleasant incident down the rabbit hole.