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.