Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Slug attack!

Even here in Slug Central, nobody expects to see slugs at the end of November and nobody expects to see them in the house, ever. But there one was this morning in the laundry room, far from the door, making its way quickly (for a slug) toward my feet. To protect your delicate sensibilities, I did not take a photo*. This was not a huge slug, a little wider than a pencil and about 4" long, but it was not one of the pill-sized infants that have been known to hitch a ride on an Airedale's fuzzy foot. How and when had it gotten in through the back door? Did it slip through a crack in search of warmer habitat? Had it been lurking for weeks, coming out during the night to feast on any morsels the parrots had dropped?

Since I always keep plastic newspaper sleeves beside the back door for easy poop-scooping on walks, I scooped up the slug and put it in the trash, feeling somewhat guilty at condemning it to a nasty death by suffocation. But it was a slug and it was on my territory.

*She didn't take a photo because she was hopping around going, "Eeeewwww, eewww, eeewww," and she had to get the poor, innocent slug out of sight asap.--Yr friend, Miro.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

An uneasy houseguest

A year or so ago my niece rescued an underweight, scraggly toy Poodle and named her Quinn. At a family gathering, Quinn impressed us with the confident and friendly way she moved among a new group of strangers in a new setting. Unfortunately, Quinn proved to have the worst case of separation anxiety any of us had ever encountered. The neighbors complained about Quinn's barking all day when my niece was at work and Quinn was licking he paws raw. My niece hired a behaviorist, tried medications, everything she could think of; but nothing helped.

My mother agreed to accept the dog into her home where she already had an elderly Great Dane. With a large dog to hero-worship and a person who was home most of the time, Quinn settled down as an affectionate companion until she decided that one of the basement rooms was her own, private bathroom. The basement had to be closed off and Quinn had to be watched.

Then my mother had knee surgery and had to spend some time convalescing away from home. The Great Dane, who has his own special needs, went to stay with a family he had boarded with before. I brought Quinn to my house. She threw up on the way over.

I know nothing about small dogs. She walked on a Flexi-lead, a thing any Airedale would simply laugh at. She wore a tiny pink jacket. She could not be thumped on the shoulder like an Airedale. Her kibble was tiny! How much was she supposed to eat? She was accustomed to free-feeding but no dog can do that in my house. What about trimming those bangs so that she could see?
When Miro first met her at my mother's house last summer, the two had run in joyful circles around and around the yard. Here, she didn't want to run or play, though she did follow Miro outside. It turned out, however, that Quinn does not like girls. Every time Alanis approached, she growled in her little-dog falsetto voice. If Alanis got closer than Quinn wanted, she snapped and even tried to bite. Fortunately Alanis reacted with a "what the heck is that?" expression while I was able to pick Quinn up and carry her away.

In the house I had to keep Quinn in an exercise pen when I couldn't watch her. She and Alanis might eventually settle but they would need to be supervised until that happened. Quinn could not be trusted not to pee somewhere. (That was another thing about a small dog: she could pee and I might not find the spot until the smell grew ripe.) Yet when Quinn was in the pen downstairs while I worked in my office upstairs, she barked incessantly.

This was not going to be a good situation. So Quinn went off to board near my niece where she'd be with people all day and my niece could check on her.

A small dog is definitely more portable than an Airedale. You can carry a little one everywhere in a sling or pack. Some, you can even stick in your purse and smuggle into a restaurant if it will be quiet. A dog ranging from 40 to 65 lbs. brings more dirt into the house than a small one. It eats more. If it's an Airedale, it has BIG teeth that shred toys. While not massive, their poop is large enough to find easily in the yard. If they pee on the carpet, you'll see the spot. My kind of dog.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Miró attends the theatre and flirts with a lady

Sunday was Dogs' Night Out at the Seattle Repertory Theatre for a performance of Sylvia, a comedy about a stray dog who turns out to be everything a man wants but nothing his wife wants. The woman who plays Sylvia is bark-perfect, right down to the kick-spot. You can see a video of her preparation for the part here.

Miro and I entered the lobby in a hurry because he is always in a hurry. Despite close quarters and mass confusion, every dog behaved excellently.
At the entry.

A rare clear space.
We found our aisle seats in the fifth row and immediately bounced up again because I spotted a familiar black and tan shape three rows ahead. We had to greet them.

Ever been to a children's theatre production? This audience was quieter and better behaved, though there was one white fluff-ball going eeeeeee through half the first act and again in the second. Most dogs settled down to be petted and have a nap. Except for the terriers.

How to watch a play. Rub head on person’s thighs. Get the darn halter off. Stand in aisle to be scratched behind the ears. Lie down to chew on dental rawhide chew. Sit up. Why is the lab in row 2 wagging his tail? Head rub. Back to the chew. Lie down across the aisle. Sit up. Hey, chairs are moving across the stage. But they’re not coming over here. Watch people walk onto the stage. Boooring. They’re paying no attention to Me. Saunter up the aisle. Get pulled back. Sit. Eye the lady across the aisle. She eyes back and smiles. Hey! Hey! Pet me. Did somebody say, “Shush?” Spoil sport. Sigh. Lie down for more chewing. Sprawl diagonally across the aisle. Roll onto back and grin, waiting for the laugh.
Outside for intermission.

Seattle icon. I had to take all photos one-handed in the dark.

Refreshment bar. Miro refuses to drink out of bowls other dogs have used.
Meeting the biggest theatre fan.
Miro's big moment. Toward the end of the 2nd act, during the serious penultimate scene that will decide Sylvia's fate, she talks about the nature of love and ends by saying, “But what do I know? I’m only a dog.” Without a pause, Miró let out a groan. The audience cracked up.




Friday, November 11, 2011

Good-bye to the Western Black Rhino

For their prehistoric look, huge bodies, and tiny minds, I have always been interested in rhinoceroses. A long time ago, long before Google, I read up on rhinoceroses for a series of poems that later appeared in my book A Fall Out the Door. Headlines about rhinoceroses catch my eye, especially this one: Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct.

Probably everyone involved with any aspect of conservation has heard of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its Red List of Threatened Species. All varieties of rhino have long been on that list. This year's report lists the Western Black as extinct and the Northern White of central Africa possibly extinct in the wild. The last member of a subspecies in Vietnam was killed in 2010. The report sums up the reasons this way:  "A lack of political support and will power for conservation efforts in many rhino habitats, international organized crime groups targeting rhinos and increasing illegal demand for rhino horns and commercial poaching are the main threats faced by rhinos."

The IUCN doesn't make hasty decisions: as far back as 2006 no members of the Western Black were found in the wild. Yesterday marked only the official declaration. Despite a lifetime of effort by conservation organizations, crime and laxity won out.

You can find photos here.

Rhinoceroses are gray and muddy from wallowing. The blacks have a prehensile upper lip used for browsing on trees and bushes while the whites have a flatter lip for grazing. They have excellent hearing and sense of smell but poor eyesight. The babies are as cute and friendly as all babies, becoming grumpy as adults. I can identify with that.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taciturn Thursday

First frost. Good-bye nasturtiums.

I missed Wordless Wednesday. Later: I've got True Colors Thursday--yellow!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A pain in the repository of irritations

Note: due to the sensitive nature of this topic, no photos are posted.
When walking around the neighborhood, most dogs slow and sniff several locations before deciding on the optimum point of deposit. Not Alanis. She freezes mid-step in order to contemplate the state of her bowels.

I walk my dogs for exercise; we do not stroll. Alanis has different ideas. At some point during every walk, she wants to poop. The problem is that she has trouble making up her mind—or other body parts—about when and where she wants to do it. We trot along briskly and she’ll suddenly stop, looking bewildered, as if experiencing a new sensation she can't identify.

I say, “Well, if you’re going to do it, do it.”  I wait. She waits. Finally I drag the dogs along because Alanis has decided she's not read to rumble. She’ll stop five times before she finally tucks her legs under and poops. Then the dogs want to move on and I’m saying, “Wait just a minute” because I have to pick the stuff up.

You might say that Alanis is zen-like, in tune with her body, with all this contemplation. I wish, however, she'd do her contemplating in the back yard.