24 November 2010

It's officially winter coat season!

So much more cozy than this morning when we forgot to put them on!

Guarding the corner.

Testing out the bench—not particularly comfy.

18 November 2010

The strange conversations we have - Part III

When I'm out with T2, I try to be conscious of the fact that to many people they look big and scary, and I look small and kind of girly (which can translate into: unable to handle the beasts should they decide to unleash mass destruction on Chicago pedestrians). Unless the person approaching looks scary himself, I make eye contact, smile and occasionally throw out a "hi." Although I tend naturally to avoid chatting up strangers or even appearing to be the sort of person with whom strangers may want to chat, I'm happy to put my own social preferences aside in the interest of positive pit bull PR. This is probably the second largest contributor to the many strange conversations I've had over the past couple of years with people (the first being the pit bulls at my side).

As I exited the park one day, a big, burly man was headed in our direction. He eyed the dogs and then eyed me. I could see he was a little concerned, so when he opted not to cross the street to avoid us, I silently applauded. As we were just about to pass each other, he smiled and said, "Those sure are some big teeth those dogs got." It sounded very nearly like what Little Red Riding Hood must have sounded like as she said much the same thing to the Big Bad Wolf.

The better to eat you with, my dear.

All I could think to say, using my best Pollyanna cheerful voice, was, "No bigger than other dogs' teeth!" 

He started a big belly laugh. "Well said, sister, well said."

Téa demonstrates how easily her mighty teeth destroy dead leaves.

09 November 2010

Indulge your inner monkey while you can

We have a number of pet names for T2, which I think is not uncommon among those of us who are dog obsessed. I will not share here most of those little terms of endearment in the event that you actually know us. The next time we meet for dinner, I don't want you to have to think of the ridiculous things we call our dogs in the privacy of our home. (You're welcome.)

One pet name that is not the least bit embarrassing, though, is Little Monkey. Though occasionally we use the term with Toni, it really doesn't suit her in the least. She's just not really the monkey sort. For one thing, she's far too large to be monkey-ish. (The Giant Bull might be closer to it.) Her lack of playfulness is also ill-suited to the name. To be honest, she's really more the straight man to Téa's monkey. This is just fine with Toni, whose sense of humor tends to be quite dry, at any rate. 

Téa is also not shy

Téa, on the other hand, is ridiculously monkey-ish. Téa will treat a de-stuffed squeaky toy as if it is still struggling for its life—tossing, shaking and chasing it across the hardwood as if it may yet escape. When there are no toys available (because Toni is not always a very good sharer), Téa will grab a blanket from her bed and barrel hell-bent from end to end of our condo, blanket stuck between her legs like an antelope carcass, tripping her up every third step. When Toni has had enough of the nonsense, Toni simply steps on the blanket as it goes by, leaving Téa tearing her way across the condo by herself...not that losing the blanket slows her down or even registers with her. Téa is the one who invented couch. She is the one who will fling herself on every smelly spot along the boulevard we walk to roll in its ecstasy-inducing stench. She is the one whose eyes roll back in her head from sheer happiness when given a chance to stretch her legs in a full-out run.

So it was both surprising and kind of heart-breaking when we went to the vet recently to investigate a little limp and soreness that Téa had developed. I figured we would be there for 15 minutes, pick up a prescription to help a strained muscle and promise to stick to a low energy schedule for the week. But when she actually cowered as the doctor tried to stretch out the troublesome leg, we decided to take it a little further. "Just to be sure," we decided to do an x-ray...probably nothing. When they sent Toni and me home so they could sedate Téa, whose leg was too sore to properly stretch out for an x-ray, I had a hard time telling who was more upset that we went home without her: Toni or me. 

About five hours later I was looking at an x-ray of her little hips. They're bad. Given her age (three-ish), her size (around 50 pounds) and the fact that I almost thought I was imagining the limp that got us to the vet in the first place, I was shocked at how nasty the dysplasia looks already. I'm no expert (yet), but when I compared the handout they gave me (and later the 9,000 images I found online) to Téa's actual hips...well, they're bad. I'd rather the have hips in the handout than the ones in the x-ray. 

We know this is not uncommon. We know we didn't do anything that allowed this to happen. We even know that the irritatingly irresponsible person who had Téa before dumping her at Animal Control didn't actually contribute to this particular issue. We know our options and know that we'll have good advice when it's time to consider them. All in all, we're in pretty good shape considering the unfortunate news we were given about the little monkey.

Still. We're a little less rough and tumble with her now. We take things in the yard and on the stairs more slowly. When T2 play couch, we make sure that Toni is always "it," though that's her preferred role anyway. But it makes me sad that we do—I don't want to take the monkey out of her in the hopes of keeping her hips in shape. Téa with no monkey in her...well, it would practically not be Téa at all.

I guess that's where I need to learn to take my cue from Téa: enjoy whatever it is 100 percent—a blanket, a run across the yard, a bit of smelly grass. Indulge your inner monkey while you can.

03 November 2010

Fine dining chez nous

I have a friend who says that when she dies, she would like to come back as one of our dogs. 

I admit that our dogs have it pretty good. We don't exactly spoil them, at least not in the way some people spoil their dogs. They don't make the rules in our house. They don't eat off our plates or even eat the same meals we eat. They are only allowed on furniture when invited. They must work at least a little every day to earn what they want - treats, meals, etc. That said, we do our best to make up for whatever mistreatment they had to deal with before we met them. They get loads of (healthy and sometimes ridiculously expensive) treats every day, including bones, rawhide, deer antlers and the like. We waste hundreds of dollars on squeaky toys and Extreme Kongs even though we know they will last approximately eight minutes once Toni gets ahold of them. They have poufs to lie on or use for looking out the front windows, as well as the occasional antique chair (which they actually did not have permission to be on, which is why it's no longer in front of the windows). They even having an expansive collection of collars to rotate through (they have us beat in the wardrobe department for sure).

My latest quest has been to find an economical solution for raised feeding bowls, which is a healthier approach to eating and drinking. There are a lot of really interesting options out there that I would consider. I like these planter style ones and these really mod ones. But they all seem so expensive (not to mention space hogging) when you consider that we have two food bowls and two water bowls. Then I saw this bed tray style set and got an idea. One pair of bed trays purchased on sale, one pair of carpet tiles (to keep the bowls from sliding) trimmed to fit, the same old bowls we've always had and voilà: highbrow dining for two.