Sunday, January 25, 2009


I put Alanis in the grooming table this afternoon for a bit of toenail trimming and coat stripping. The grooming table sits in the living room where there's so little light that I work more by feel than sight. (Chalk up another reason to hate winter.) I tried rigging up a desk lamp to see her feet in order to Dremel the toenails. Then I had to scootch the table closer to the outlet, with the poor dog clinging like someone on a tossing ship. That was only close enough to do the front feet. The back feet will have to wait, not that Alanis minds.

She has lots and lots and lots of fur, a coat much denser than my other Airedales had. I brushed and combed and stripped and voila! I had filled only a third of a bag with fur and she looked exactly the same as she had when we started.

She gave me The Horse Look: the turned head, the rolled eyes showing an edge of white, the ears down. "You're torturing me but I'll accept it patiently because I am a good and humble dog. By the way, it has been an entire two minutes since you last gave me a treat for my excellent behavior and I need another to give me the strength to keep standing here." Like I could refuse.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


If he had lived a couple more months, my best boy Darwin would have been thirteen this January. This photo was taken last June when he was 12 and a half. He still knew how to have a good time rolling on the grass.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Alanis overcomes her fear of the kitchen

Not sure if it's safe in there.

The smell entices.

Is that sardines in the water?

Oh, yes.

Yes, yes, yes!

Friday, January 16, 2009

News Flash

At 9:45 pm Alanis drank from her cream soup bowl water dish like a normal dog. That is, she drank more than just a few dainty laps and went glap glap glap glap and got her beard wet the way an Airedale should.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chickens as scientists

Chickens are inquisitive, like scientists. Here's Muffin examining the camera with a steely gaze.

Unfortunately, they require a bit of clean-up after their studies.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Does dog pee ward off raccoons?

Alanis is picking up correct ADT habits. For her last outing each night, she makes a circuit of the chicken pen where I hope she pees all over the place. Somebody on my chicken list has a theory that dog pee helps keep raccoons away. Or maybe the pee is just good luck (it's got to be good for something).

Every night the neighborhood raccoon crosses my front yard to the back gate where she climbs my fence into the trees that border the yard. Instead of climbing down to the yard where the chickens sleep the sleep of the innocent in their coop, she walks along the wood fence or through the trees and goes down into a neighboring yard. Early in the fall, I even caught her and her two cubs on top of my house a couple of times.

Although Airedales are natural varmint hunters and raccoon scent is used in hunting trials, I'd never want one of my dogs anywhere near a raccoon. It's not fear of rabies; it's that a terrier will happily fight until it's in shreds and raccoons are vicious beasts. Sorry chickens, the dog comes first.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Alanis and the big rain

Alanis is settling in, though she still won't drink the water unless it's mixed with her food. This morning she spent some time sitting at the edge of the patio, looking out over the lower yard where the chickens live and where she goes to the fence to bark at the Great Dane next door. It was such a "guarding my yard" thing to do that I grabbed the camera to take a picture.

And as soon as I returned to the kitchen window, she had moved. Of course.

We were happy not to get any flooding here (though there are some suspicious damp spots in the garage) but on the night with the hardest rain, Alanis didn't want to go out in it to potty or anything else. I stepped outside and walked out a little ways with her following. Then she stopped, went, "This is yucky," and returned to the shelter near the back door with her tail firmly tucked under. It wasn't even that bad a downpour, just very constant. She's definitely not a water dog.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Airedale missing in Mexico

Erika Reyes lives with her family in Mexico City. When they were on vacation in the beach town of Guayabitos, her Airedale Schatzi ran off on January 1. Schatzi is microchipped and Erika is doing everything she can to find her dog, including offering a substantial reward.

I'm posting this because it's what I can do and maybe it'll help get the information where it needs to go. Erika takes excellent care of Schatzi. The dog's escape is one of those terrible things that can happen in a split second, one of those things we hope never happens to us.

If anyone has connections in Guayabitos or nearby towns (Puerto Vallarta), now's the time to contact them.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Alanis' deprived childhood

Having grown up as a kenneled show dog instead of an indoor companion dog, Alanis doesn't know some important things about domestic life. I am trying to teach her Things that Fall on the Kitchen Floor and Spoon Licking 101.

I move at warp speed when cooking in order to get it over with as quickly as possible. Keeper and The So-Perfect Darwin used to watch and wait for the inevitable falling food. They would run up but screech to a sliding halt if I yelled, "No." If I tapped my foot beside the fallen morsels, they'd vacuum up the food instantly. Alanis is only beginning to learn about falling food; the foot-tap is weeks or months away.

Today I made split pea soup with chopped-up vegetables that went flying around the kitchen. Dogs should not eat onions and most won't eat celery but carrots are generally desirable. When a carrot slice hit the floor, I squatted down and tapped it with my finger. "Alanis, look what fell from the sky!" I picked it up and offered it to her. "Come on, you like carrots." She approached and took the carrot almost hesitantly before crunching it up. She looked at me with that "More?" expression that dogs quickly perfect. I said, "You'll have to wait until something else falls. You need to watch for it." We will continue our lessons but I doubt she'll ever dart in as fast as a shark the way Keeper did.

When cleaning up after dinner, I offered her the stirring spoon to lick. It's not plastic but is that stuff like plastic for high temperatures. The point is that it isn't metal and has some give. She reached to take the spoon in her front teeth, then drew back in surprise. I scraped some split pea gunk off with my finger and held it out for her to lick before offering the spoon again. Nope, that spoon is scary stuff and not to be touched, no matter how attractive the green pea gunk. She knows fingers can be licked, plates can be licked; but anything else is suspect.

My mother, who never allowed our dogs to lick plates or other human utensils, would approve of Alanis' manners. I'm bent on corrupting her by teaching her to eat off the floor, my spoons and even pots and pans when she's ready for advanced classes in kitchen work. After all, how else do you keep the kitchen clean?