Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pictures of Winter

Winter is taking too long so I am taking pictures of winter white. Another thing that is boring about winter, every thing is white or nearly so. There will be the occassional blackness of tree limbs and trunks, the disgusting brown of the plowed snow along roadways but mostly there is white. I have nothing against the color white but is it even a color or the absence of color? Regardless it gets a bit boring this time of year to see only white. At least spring and summer have the many colors of green, the vibrant colors of the flowers in their favor and of course Autumn is resplendant in the oranges, yellows and reds of the trees. Winter however is WHITE!

Snow Covered Trees

I took this picture last year. I think it illustrates my point very well. Just lots of white with streaks of grey and black.


Even Rommel does not look too happy to be outside in the deep snow. At least he is a spot of color!

Four Mile Creek

A view looking across a frozen and snow covered Four Mile Creek which is near my home.

I much prefer taking pictures any other time of year. At least my fingers are in no danger of freezing to the camera!! But winter in it's boring white can be beautiful in it's own way so I will brave the cold on occasion and catch Mother Nature clothed in her frosty gown of snow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Agility Class

This afternoon was the first agility class of the New Year. We had a break over the Holiday season and because of the inclement winter weather we have not had much of an opportunity to do any practice.

Despite being rusty Kai seemed to get back in the swing of things with minimal difficulty. We had worked on sending Kai ahead of me and crossing in front of my wheelchair which were things he was reluctant to do before. He is so used to staying near me for service dog work that he had to learn that going ahead of me was an acceptable thing to do. By repeatedly sending him ahead of me for small things in the house he had the confidence in class to head in the direction I was pointing and take jumps with ease.

I am really looking forward to the next eight weeks learning together to work as a team and having fun at the same time.

Today also was the second week of agility class for Ashley & Scamp. Since Scamp was not a well socialized dog during his first year of life he is having some issues adjusting to all the new dogs in class but by the middle of the evening he was paying attention to Ashley and not reacting to what was going on around him. He did have an occasional mishap such as when the Minature Schnauzer decided to run up to him so he had to warn her off. But even his reaction to that was so much better than it would have been just a few months ago.

I know that if we keep working with him he will soon act calm, cool and collected around other dogs and people that he does not know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lampshade Head Dog

I have changed Kai's name to Lampshade Head Dog. Kai is currently wearing an E-collar and he is not too happy about it but unfortunately it is for his own good. He started chewing himself about six inches above the root of his tale late this summer. Despite all my best efforts he managed to get it chewed raw and infected so that required a trip to the vet. After a bill that was a major dent on my wallet being over $200 he spent three weeks on antibiotics and antihistamines. The area healed very nicely and he was doing well when about three weeks after that he sneaked into the bedroom and chewed it open again. It was so red and inflammed that he was crying in pain if I even tried to clean it. So after a phone call to the vet and another $50 he spent another three weeks on antibiotics and antihistamines.

Needless to say I have been watching him like a hawk since then but this past week he again started chewing on himself and has some scabs in the area around the previously damaged skin. So a trip to PetsMart and he is now the unhappy owner of a green tinted e-collar. I will have him wear it until he is all healed up and then I am going to have to find a way to keep it from happening again or the e-collar will have to become permanent wearing apparel for him. I have noticed he seems to do the chewing when he is very bored, frustrated or has not gotten enough exercise so I will be sure to make sure that he has no opportunity to be any of those things. I am up to the challenge I am sure or I had better be.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cheech the turtle

In addition to the dogs and cats that live with me I am also blessed with the presence of Cheech a red eared slider turtle. She arrived with Ashley and Cheech has totally changed my opinion of what type of pet a turtle can be.


My memory of pet turtles consists of tiny turtles that my mother purchased at the local Five and Dime. They were kept in a large open tank with thirty or forty other turtles that all climbed over each other due to limited room. My sister and I each got a turtle and we brought them home and installed them in a glass fish bowl with some water and a rock to climb out on. They did not live long, possibly because my sister and I would take them out of their bowl and handle them almost every day or just because they were not very healthy to begin with due to the conditions they were raised in. I had a series of turtles until one day we were told that they no longer were allowed to sell the turtles due to the fact that they were carriers of Salmonella.

When Ashley told me she had a pet turtle I was not sure what to expect. Since the turtles I remembered did not have much personality and basically just hid in their bowl I did not imagine that Ashley's turtle would be much different. I was totally astonished to meet Cheech, she was so much larger than the turtles of my past. They were only and inch or so across their shell and Cheech was four or five times that size. I also did not expect her to do much more than sit in her aquarium.

Cheech has proven to be quite the character. She begs for food when she sees that someone is in the room by bouncing along the glass walls of the aquarium pawing and standing on her rear legs. She has made attempts to climb out of the top of her tank, stretching up on her rear feet and reaching with her neck and front feet until overbalanced she falls down sometimes landing on her back so that I hold my breath wondering if I need to rescue her and then she manages to flip herself upright. We have taken her out of her tank and putting her in a small fenced area let her roam around. She teases the cats, especially D.C. when he gets to close to her she spins around and tries to bite him. We are all waiting for the day when we find D.C. with a turtle attached to his nose.

Ashley recently purchased a much larger tank for Cheech and she has been quite pleased with the extra room to swim and bask in the light on her rocky island. I am so glad to make the acquaintance of such a personality as Cheech the turtle.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Organizing Picture Files

For the past week or so I have been organizing my picture files on my computer. When my older laptop began to have signs of impending doom and also because I always try to keep important files backed up I had put all my photos on a flash drive. I was amazed to find that I had over a thousand pictures when I went to download them onto my new computer. So I have spent a little bit of time everyday organizing them into files and culling some that are repetitive, blurry or have other major flaws I seemed to have overlooked the first time. I guess I never really thought about how large the number one thousand is but when you are spending hours going through photos and even after deleting hundreds of pictures I still have over nine hundred left. That count does not include the hundreds of pictures I have taken that were on the memory card of my camera that I have also transferred onto my computer that I had to edit.

What is the point of all this information? I thought that occasionally I will post some of my favorite pictures here in my blog. Some will be picture of my dogs, some will be family and friends and some could be just pictures of any thing at all.

  Yankee (my cat)

Out of the three cats in the house, Yankee is the only cat that will voluntarily pay any attention to me. In the picture that I actually took with my iphone he is sitting on my little table asking me for his favorite snack, a potato chip.


My niece Ashley graduated from high school last June and this picture was taken at her graduation party last August. Ashley is such a wonderful girl and she has been such a joy since she has come to live with me.

Apple Blossoms

I took this picture in the neighborhood in the spring of 2009. The apple tree in a neighbors yard was in full bloom showing off all it's splendor.

Tasha and Shanna

The last picture from today is one of my first two white German Shepherds. They have long since gone to the Rainbow Bridge but they live on forever in my heart.

Time to call it a day. I will post more pictures in the future. So long.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A snowy day for a drive.

Today the weather turned snowy with very strong wind gusts so of course it is the day that I am driving to Youngstown, OH to meet a new friend. I was given information to contact her regarding a wheelchair she had for sale and after numerous emails back and forth it was agreed I could purchase the chair. Since my electric scooter had given up the ghost (unless of course I want to drive backwards the rest of my life) being able to purchase an almost new wheelchair at a great discount was such a blessing.

So we agreed to meet at the rest stop on Rt. 11 which is closer to Youngstown than here but a fairly easy and quick drive. Leaving home it was snowing lightly but by the time we reached I-90 the visibility had plummeted and the roads had blowing snow as well as already slippery conditions. Although I had left with time to spare if road conditions had been normal the weather slowed me down considerably and I ended up being late at our rendezvous. I did call her though and she was not upset thank goodness. When I finally arrive I am 15 minutes late and I am a person that is mortified to be late.

Kai loved the drive but then again Kai views riding in the car as second only to eating as his favorite thing to do in the whole world. He gets so upset if the vehicle leaves the driveway and he is not in it. He watched the loading of the wheelchair but then discovered that he was not confined to the extreme back seat of the van and could not walk up and check on me every once in awhile. By the end of the return trip he had figured out that he could stand on the wheelchair seat with his front legs and be closer to the action so he was happy about that.

Fortunately the return trip was uneventful. Visibility had cleared and the roads had been salted and were clear. Although it was still windy it was definitely not as troublesome as it had been earlier. The amazing thing was we had seen no accidents on our way to Youngstown when the weather was miserable but on the way home we passed car after car that had ran off the road and was stuck in a snow drift somewhere. Evidently driving too fast for conditions was prevalent today.

Kai and I are glad to be home safe and sound and Kai is now sleeping on the couch. I guess the trip wore him out.

Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Running Errands & Playing in the Snow

Today was a day to run errands including what everyone always dreads, paying the bills. After paying as many bills as I could online I then had to visit the bank ATM withdraw cash and pay the two bills I cannot pay online which include the lot rent so that I can continue to have a home. I would love to be able to pay all bills online because then I don't have to venture out when it is freezing cold outside but the natural gas company does not allow bill paying online unless you have the money deducted from a checking account which I don't have. Why credit cards which are basic Internet currency are not accepted is beyond me.

So out we venture in the frigid air, first stop is the vet where we take Scamp to have his nails trimmed. Having been a pet groomer for ten years it is few dogs that I cannot manage to trim their nails but Scamp has proved to be one. We obtained him in September at the age of one and he had only had his nails trimmed once or twice. We were told that he didn't like it so they just didn't do it. He had no training of any kind and was extremely used to getting his own way. Despite major success with teaching him basic obedience and restricting his impulse to nip and bite if confronted he was still impossible when it was time to get his nails trimmed. Nail trimming required a muzzle, two people wrestling to hold him still while I attempted to hold on to a foot and trim the nails. We succeeded twice but the last time while doing the first foot he jerked the wrong way and blood was every where. We had a very difficult time getting it to stop bleeding because the nail was cut extremely close to the toe. So after talking with the vet we decided to take him there to have them done.

I am wondering if the vet's office will ever let him back there again since it took four vet techs to get a muzzle on him! They did manage to get his nails trimmed without blood loss from either staff or canine. The vet kidded that she was surprised at how strong such a small dog was. He may only be 17 pounds but he is wiry and all muscle. So with him relaxing in the back of the car we returned home to drop Scamp off and then we dropped off the rent, and tried to pay the gas bill but they were closed at 4 pm. Bummer!

Next on the agenda was picking up my friend Lynn and her service dog Otto at work and we took the Kai and Otto for a run. The snow was up to both dogs shoulder blades and they had fun hopping through it and chased each other around a little. Kai was more enthused with playing and running and Otto spent more time warning Kai off. Unfortunately since Kai was a puppy one of his favorite things to do when playing is to grab dogs by the front leg. Otto was having none of it and so after a short period of time the play was over and we took Lynn home.

I am now staring at two exhausted dogs sacked out on the living room floor and the couch. They do say that a tired dog is a happy dog! I do know that a tired dog makes a happy owner!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dogs vs. Cats

In my household in addition to the three dogs there are also three cats that in typical cat fashion are convinced that we are all here to serve them. The relationship between the dogs and cats varies depending on the specific dog or cat and also to a great extent the time of day.

Rommel is a cat addict. He lives to seek out cats in the neighborhood with the goal of pinning them down and sticking his nose deep in their fur and sniffing in such a state of pure joy it is funny to watch. Of course the cats do not appreciate such behavior and tend to demonstrate their disapproval with varying degrees of growling, hissing and clawing. When Rommel first moved in here he tried this procedure on all the cats that lived here at the time but soon gave up because half of the fun for him was the chase and our cats just refused to run from a little old German Shepherd Dog. So now it is his dream to catch a cat roaming the neighborhood and show it how much he loves them. Taking Rommel for a walk is an interesting time because you must be alert for felines on the loose so you can distract his attention from them before he can act on his impulse.

Rommel sniffing DC

Kai on the other hand was raised by a cat at his breeder and he has a very good attitude towards cats in general. He mostly ignores our cats and the cats in the neighborhood. He does have his favorite cat though and Pip returns that affection and attention. Where ever Kai is Pip can usually be found. Pip gets in Kai's face, crawls over him and before he was neutered occasionally used him as an object of romantic affection. No matter what Kai does to him including putting his head in his mouth, pinning him down with his foot or using him as a furry pillow Pip just comes back for more.

Kai and Pip

I don't think the new addition to the household, Scamp, had ever met a cat until he moved here. I am not sure he knows what a cat is for that matter. Since he was poorly socialized as a puppy he is also not too sure that he is a dog. So his approach to cats is a little bipolar at times. When ever one of the cats comes in from the outdoors he loves to chase them down the hall. He also pounces on them at odd times in a playful mood and he is totally astonished when he gets hissed at and swatted in the face. He would have a totally scratched up face if it wasn't for the forebearance of the cats who keep their claws sheated. He especially has a hate - hate relationship with Yankee and the two of them tend to go into combat mode on sight of each other. DC on the other hand is jealous of Scamp and the fact that Ashley pays attention to him so he has taken the offensive at times and launched himself at Scamp anytime they are in the same room together.

So in my house the war between dogs and cats continues with occassional truces and occasional battles but mostly it seems to have long periods of indifference when both sides march to their own drummers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowy Day. But what did you expect in January?

Today is a snowy day not only here in Erie but pretty much all over the country. A major Nor'Easter blew up the east coast and is dumping snow by the foot up into New England. The Pacific Northwest also is getting snow and the deep south is still in a deep freeze and trying to dig out from more snow than they usually see for years. Why the weather report? It is interesting to see how people handle weather events. Most people respond according to where they live and whether the weather event is normal for that area. So the people in the South are finding it difficult to deal with all the snow, freezing rain and low temperatures while New England is much better equipped to handle such events. So the people of New England may be hunkering down today and waiting for the storm to pass, once it is gone they will have a much easier time digging out and getting on with their lives.

I did notice on Facebook that people who do not have the opportunity to play in the snow are using the aftermath of the storm to introduce their children to the joys of snowmen, sledding and snowball fights. Those of us that are used to snow are perhaps just a little jaded about the addition of even more fluffy white stuff. We do not enjoy the joys of a day spent romping outside on a snowy afternoon especially once we are out of childhood. Most of us just wish the snow would go away and annoy someone else.

My dogs however all approach the snow everyday with great joy. They love to run and plow through the drifts, roll around making snow doggie angels and sticking their faces deep down in the snow and emerging with face and nose covered in white fluff. They charge out the door with joyous abandon and begin to explore the new layers that have been added to their yard since the last time they were out. Often they are so overjoyed while outside that they are very reluctant to come back inside when they are called.

Maybe I need to take a note from my dogs and enjoy the day no matter what it hands us and not be so caught up in blaming the weather as a reason to not go outside and just have some fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Growing Old

Time goes by much too fast both for us and especially for our pets. It is so hard to believe that the puppy you remember like it was just yesterday is now a senior citizen.

Rommel will be ten this year. He spends a great deal of his day sleeping and he is moving slower. There seems at times to be a look of sadness in his eyes like he knows that he is older now and can't do everything that he used to be able to do. I know that he is not in pain except for some arthritis on occassion but it is difficult watching such an energetic personality lapse slowly into indifference. Rommel does love his food though and dinner time is the major bright spot of his day. Then you can see the young puppy shining through in his eyes. They say that when your dog is getting older you should decide on what criteria you are going to base your decision that he is no longer enjoying life and maybe needs to be helped to the Rainbow Bridge. You should decide on two or three things and if the dog is no longer able or no longer enjoys those activities you should consider euthansia. I know for a dog that lives to eat like Rommel does that when he starts to have no enthusiam for his dinner that it will be time to consider his needs above my own. I am hoping that day is a long way off.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's 2011 (Just in case you were not aware of that)

It is already ten days into the New Year and I am finally getting around to posting here again. It seems that I took all of 2010 off from blogging and I decided that I will make a concerted effort to make regular posts again. I may be talking to myself but it doesn't matter. Sometimes I have a lot to say so I might as well say it here.

Over the past year I have been concentrating on several things. Kai and I restarted agility classes and he is doing excellent despite having me as his handler. While I have always been a good handler in obedience trials I have found that agility is definately a totally different kettle of fish that I am often drowning in! Agility training requires you to be faster than your dog not only in your ability to get around the ring but also in your ability to think ahead and give your dog plenty of notice about what is coming next. Add to that the fact that due to physical limitations I am no longer able to run around the ring and I must use an electric scooter or wheelchair that makes training that much more difficult.

Speaking of my electric scooter, after three years of faithful service it has suffered a major meltdown and will no longer move in a forward direction. So unless I want to go through life in reverse I am forced to pay to get it repaired or find an alternative means of transportation. Fortunately, I lucked onto a fellow dog trainer in Youngstown, OH who has a almost new wheelchair that she wants to find a new home for and so this weekend I will be driving to Youngstown and coming back with new transportation. I think when I have saved up some money I will have the scooter repaired to use as a backup so that hopefully I will not ever be stuck with no means to easily get around.

Ashley and Scamp

My niece Ashley got a pomeranian beagle mix this past September and he is settling into the household fairly well. He does not always get along with Kai mainly because he does not being smacked on the head with a German Shepherd foot as an invitation to play. She named him Scamp and he is living up to the name. Ashley has been working hard on his basic obedience and they will be starting agility classes soon. I wish them luck but I think that they will be good at it and won't need extra luck.

Kai and his cat Pip are still the best of buddies. Where you find one you often find the other.
Kai and Pip

Ain't love grand!

I don't want to write about my entire life in one post. I will catch up more in future posts. Hopefully 2011 will be my year of the blog.