Backyard to the Universe
Dawgs - 2002
New Years Day 2002
Well, today is my 2nd birthday. And Don's 3rd birthday is today. Mahler had his second birthday in November. Dick has talked about getting hats for our birthdays, but that would really insult our collective dignity -- unless he can find some that are eatable.
We were wondering, as we waited to beg at lunch, if you people really understand what you put us through when you expect us to sit and to take food gently from you as a result of our begging. That is completely against our nature and instinct. Just imagine us sitting in the wild while a morsel of food was passed by our noses!
I had a good time on the ride with my family yesterday. Let me explain something about the "re-entry" process. When any of us has been away from the others for any reason or length of time, we need to get re-acquainted. You people seem to get so upset when we start hassling roughly, but this his how we re-establish our place in the pack -- anything over 2 dawgs is a pack, and we include you humans in our pack. We're not mad or upset, although I admit that sometimes we do make extra loud growls and barks just to get a reaction from you people! You are so funny when you try to make sure that we treat each other nicely, when pack culture doesn't allow nice, quiet sniffing for getting back together. At least with us dawgs, we know where we stand with each other all the time. We communicate with noises, noses and body language.
January 12, 2002
Tess is trying to be good. Yesterday was hard for her. Helen gave us rawhide bones in the morning. I have learned how to really attack them and eat them quickly. Tess carried hers around all day, growling. She'd come right up to Don and me, really in our faces, and dare us to try to take it away, but we ignored her, which made her growl even more! In fact, Helen put her in her crate a couple of times -- with the bone -- to give us a rest. Well, last night Erik filled her ball, the one she got for Christmas, with goodies. When she played with it, she left her bone. I grabbed the bone and chewed it up before she got through with her ball! She didn't seem to mind -- she didn't even look for the bone.
Now, for some of my observations. There are definite differences on how catz and dawgs approach people. Dawgs like to greet you. It's our duty as dawgs. That's why we get excited when you come home or come to visit us. Catz, on the other hand, want to greet you when they get good and ready to do so. For example, Helen has been having to clean their ears every few days. So when she goes into Erik's room, the catz look at her warily and try to decide whether it is "ear time" or just a visit -- especially when she goes into the room in the evening. After they decide that she is just visiting, they will come out a play with her. And when Dick goes in and sits on the couch, they will stay out, 'cause he makes no move toward them. They seem to prefer to be ignored until they get ready to be friendly. They act like that with us dawgs, too. If we are very quiet and low keyed, they will stay out around us, but if we move the slightest bit too fast or too far into their room, they hide. Well, Bear doesn't hide -- she comes right at us hissing. And Maggie is an exception because she thinks she's a dawg. She's got her identity mixed-up.
January 16, 2002
The snow has been fun the last few days. Don got out of the house twice on Sunday. There is a strict rule in the house that no one goes after him -- although we dawgs would join him, if we could. Anyway, the first time, Helen put Mahler and me in Mahler's crate, and left the front door slightly ajar, and Don came in. When Helen let us out of the crate, Mahler and I really scolded Don. Well, actually, it sounded like we were scolding so we could fool the people. We were actually congratulating him --and telling him about the extra dog biscuits we got for being good. He didn't get any. But when he got away the second time, Mahler and I just ignored him when he came in. A hero once, but not twice.
One other thing. Don and I really do miss out homes. We've decided that, if we are not able to be with our own families, being here and having visits is the next best thing. We know that we are loved in both places, and we have made our own places at home and here. Mahler needs extra attention sometimes from his family so that he doesn't feel displaced by us. And I realized the other night that Don gets out of sorts when I get too close to Krista, that he is feeling just like I do when he or Mahler get too close to my family. We dawgs talk about these things when you people think that we are just sleeping. As a matter of fact, Don and I got into such a conversation, that sounded like various tones of growling, until Erik and Helen actually had the nerve to laugh at us. Just wait into you people get into a heated conversation, and we'll just laugh at you!
January 22, 2002
Did Helen ever get mad at us the other evening! When the UPS man came, Don pushed by Helen, putting her off guard, and Tess and I streaked out. We took off! Fresh snow on the ground, and freedom. We ran and ran and ran. Tess went back home after about 15 minutes. I went in almost an hour later, and Don decided it wasn't any fun without us, so went home, also. Helen didn't speak to us for quite a while, but we were too tired to really care. We just flopped! Helen rubbed Tess's back legs to get them warmed up -- Tess really liked that attention.
Speaking of Tess, she has jumping on Helen when she's at the computer down to an art. She just takes one flying leap onto Helen's lap, leans against her so that her chair goes backward part way, then licks her face. This happens several times a day. Maybe Tess figures that Helen needs a break from the computer.
Helen said that the living room looks like a graveyard for socks and a towel. We can really do a job on things. Sometimes all three of us are tugging on a sock. But they only last for a few days 'cause we're really rough. Wonder what families who don't have dawgs do with extra socks. Helen says that we do a good job of recycling.
We have a new thing to drive the people crazy. Don started us on carrying our dishes around after we eat. We don't know why we do that, but it does get attention. Maybe we are subconsciously hoping that we will get more food, but that hasn't worked yet. The people just take away the dishes. They say that they want to put them in one place, so they know where they are at feeding time. Really, they take the dishes away from us because our chewing the dishes bothers them!
April 2, 2002
Hey, we survived April Fool's Day!
Yah! Really! Don came at me like he was really mad. I wondered what I had done now. I tried to run, but he just chased me, downstairs, down the hall and back up again. He was just about ready to jump on me, and he stopped! He stood there with his stupid grin and said, "April Fools!"
I got the best of the others. I just keep hiding the green tennis balls under the pad in my crate -- so only I know where they are! I hide them around the edges, so that Tess can't feel them when she lies on the mat. I also hide pieces of cardboard, so I can chew myself! I know it's mean. And I even do it on days other than April Fool's.
April 3, 2002
ALL OF US
Just as Helen went to mail the letter from yesterday, we pulled an escape! Don certainly is a good ring leader. We took off to the woods and sniffed and ran and jumped (stopping periodically to do "business".) We stayed out of the road, and eventually came back to the yard in front (or in the back) of the house. Don and Mahler took a swim, but Tess found it disgustingly cold! And Helen thought that we wouldn't go swimming this early! Of course, we are moving a little slower today. In fact, Don is limping a bit -- he says it's just stiffness and if he were allowed to run every day, he wouldn't get stiff when we escape. Tess and I just tease him about getting old.
May Day 2002
Don's doing pretty well, considering his hips. It was just a month ago that we got loose. And it was a couple of days after that that he had periods of crying when he moved. Helen took him to the doctor. Guess he has a genetic condition in both hips. Anyway, he is on a special diet and is supposed to lose about 25 pounds. And he is on Rimadyl to decrease the inflammation in hips. I guess that Mahler was on that medicine when he had his surgery when he was a little puppy and reacted with diarrhea, but that was before I met him. Anyway, Don is feeling more energetic. He doesn't go downstairs much but is trying to sometimes. He likes his new food OK. Mahler and I know that we aren't supposed to touch it, even though Donovan leaves it for ages before finishing a meal. And Helen now gives us carrots in place of dog biscuits sometimes. Mahler and I like carrots, but Don just drops his, so I get it. But that also means that he is eating less.
June 12, 2002 Erik's Birthday
Rainnnnnnnny Day. We refused to go out this morning, so Helen took us out on leashes. We got soaked, but sooooo didddd sheeee----really soaked! And one of us, we won't tell who, pooped on the porch, just to get even. Get even with whom or what? The rain doesn't care, so I guess we just made Helen work harder. She wasn't too pleased. But after our walk, we came running in to greet Dick -- and to share some of the rain with him by shaking! This isn't just a rain, it's a muddy rain. Even the worms were being washed down the road this morning, even though Helen rescued a few of them. Something about the worms come out of their holes when it gets toooo wet -- which is really stupid because it is wetter outside of the ground!
Guess the baby bird has flown the nest. What nest? That's right. It has been so long since we have written that there has been a nest build over the front door and a chick hatched. There were nests last year, but we never saw any chicks. The one this year sat up on the edge of the nest. Helen and Erik were afraid that it was going to fall out. But it hasn't been perched for a couple of days, and the mother bird is back huddled into the nest. She needs to get all of her family-raising done before the porch gets painted.
Health wise, I am responding well to the medicine and has lost 7 pounds. Tess had her ear clipped a week ago, well, not in a fashionable way. She had a wart that was getting bigger so it had to be cut out. Helen took the stitches out this morning because some of them seem to have pulled out and were bleeding a bit. She put on band-aides, which are holding nicely, and yells at Tess when she tries to scratch the ear or Mahler when he licks it.
Helen says that we are going to get our own yard out back of the house. A man came to measure the yard last week and said that it would be a couple of weeks before this could be done. Helen says that the sooner the better. We are still being tied out front and have made a mess of a few of her plants. Mahler just likes to walk all over them.
July 8, 2002
Helen put us in our crates for 4 hours this morning because some men were working in the back yard. She didn't like us running from window to window barking at them. Don and I were pretty quiet, in the crates, I mean, but Tess talked the whole time, either that or barked. Erik gave us rawhide bones to make up for crating us but we just ignored them. But when we got out of the crates, Tess took her bone and ran around growling, daring us to take it from her, like she always does. Don and I have her figured out, and we just let her growl. Gives her something to complain about. She even took the bone outside and tried to bury it, but Don stood right beside her, so she couldn't drop the bone to dig deep enough. She ended up walking around with a dirty bone!
The guys are really dummies! They didn't say what the big news is! Well, when the men had taken all of their tools and hardware and truck and left, we got to go out in the back yard -- without leashes. There was a new fence up that still gives us a fair amount of room. I started running around the yard with my bone, and the guys were chasing me. We went around several times -- great fun. The screen house is in the yard, and that gives us something to run around. And Erik has put up a tarp for a shaded area -- quite classy, actually.
Now, as far as the bone goes, I just can't help it! Have bone will run, have bone will growl, have bone and I have the last word -- no one comes near me. But sometimes, when I finally do put the bone down, it disappears. Then I don't have to be on guard any more! So it all balances out.
August 31, 2002
Mahler is really funny when we go for a walk. He watches cars that pass us heading up the hill, then stands, and watches to see which way the car turns. We think that he makes some kind of guess in his mind then waits to see if he is right. But he won't tell us why he does that or what he is thinking. He can be really secretive sometimes. He even started pointing the way the boats on the stream were going, but we guess that he gave up on that when he really couldn't see them vary far.
We are really having fun with the yard. But sometimes strange things come into the yard. A couple of days ago, Helen was sitting in the screen house, and there was constant chirping. We were too busy playing, but Erik noticed a baby bird sitting in the fence -- really in the fence, as it fit into the holes in the wiring in the fence. It hopped to new places on the fence several times, then Erik noticed it on a branch of a tree a few feet above the ground. It wasn't hurt, probably just hungry. Reminded us of the babies in the next over the front door.
Then yesterday afternoon there was a big toad in the yard. Helen would not let us near it. She thought that we would try to eat it! No way! For some reason, she was really glad to see it. Something about not seeing as many toads and frogs this year as usual and being afraid that pollution was getting them. She likes them because they keep the bugs down. Erik said there was a little snake by a gate just after the yard was put up, but we didn't see it.
September 12, 2002
We had a long discussion with Dick the other night and he relayed it to Helen. We convinced him that we Dawgs are responsible for civilizing people and for keeping them healthy. We are responsible for people getting out walking or doing other forms of exercise. And we are obviously superior. After all, people have to go out and get our food -- and feed us. We are under no obligation to feed them. And they provide beds for us or let us up onto theirs. And think of the economic boost we are to the economy -- all the jobs that we create in pet stores and other places. People really don't give us the credit that we deserve.
November 2, 2002
I have had the biggest thing happen -- my surgery! My left hip was bothering me so much that I finally had surgery. Now, to hear Helen tell it, they took off some of the top of my leg bone joint, 'cause it was rubbing the joint. Then they expect scar tissue to fill in the space and to provide a cushion to prevent the bone rubbing against the hip socket. Sounds really horrible. Sometimes it is better not to know the details. Anyway, I had to be quiet for a week, no playing and not running. Helen kept me in the crate except when I had to go outside. That was OK for the first few days. By the end of the week, I was bored and started refusing to go into the crate. But it's been 3 weeks since the surgery. The vet was very pleased with my progress when I went in to have the stitches out. Sometimes the hip aches, but it's all manageable. Compared with the pre-surgery pain, this is nothing. The worst thing was that I was not allowed to go downstairs and get Dick up in the mornings. One day I just did it when no one was looking and Dick was taking a nap. After that, they decided that I could handle the stairs, so now I'm back on duty.
I have gone out with my family a couple of times. Had lots of fun. I also had my check-up at the vet's. They said that I weighed too much and needed to walk 2 miles a day. This, of course, means that some human has to walk this much, also. With winter coming, Helen and Erik decided that I needed to have a sweater for the cold day walks. Between the halters, my sweater, Helen's jacket and shoes (soon to add gloves and boots), going for a walk is quite a production. Helen tries to take us for more short walks rather than one long one. And as for Don, I am glad that he explained what had happened to him. All I knew was that one day he went out with Helen and came back a couple of days later with his left hip and leg shaved and limping -- and I kept getting yelled at to keep away from him. We all even slept upstairs for a few nights so he wouldn't try to use the stairs. But now he's starting the playing, so I know that he is feeling better but Helen sometimes brings him in before she takes Mahler and me for longer walks.
Sometimes Helen tells us about animals that live with her friends. When they die, we sometimes write notes to the family. Here is a sample.
To Bailey's Family
Helen came home and gave us all big hugs. She told us about Bailey, and we decided write to you all.
We dawgs all have places in our respective families, and jobs to do. We know that Bailey had her special place in your family and in your hearts. That will always be the so. She probably helped the adults cope with life and helped you younger people cope with emotions of growing up. We dawgs can really share lots of wisdom when people let us. We aren't really born with the wisdom: we just live each moment and acquire it. And people may not realize this wisdom until after we are gone. Our people will suddenly laugh when they remember something that we did that they thought was cute or funny, whether we planned it that way or not. Sometimes they marvel at how well we know their moves and schedules and habits. That's our job. Hopefully, sometimes we have made people just stop and enjoy life.
And we understand that there are kittens in the family. You will probably search for Bailey and be really puzzled when you can't find her. We did that when we lost Gaia, one of our cats, this summer. People don't think that we notice the presence and absence of other animals. Really! Our whole lives focus on how we deal with our environment, so, of course, we notice these things. And we do miss others and we grieve. We don't understand why someone leaves, but we can feel the loss. Even if the family gets another dog sometime, Bailey will still be your "first" dog, and have a special place in your hearts.
We just wanted to let you know that we, the animals that live with Helen, were thinking about you.
November 16, 2002
WHO DONE IT?
Helen is going to give you some things that happened this week, and some of her thoughts on who might have done them, but we're not going to give the answer. After all, we do not tell on each other!
It was rainy. Helen put us out back at 6 AM. Two of us peed and one refused to do anything. Helen warned us that she was not taking us out for a walk until 7 AM. We woke up Dick, who decided to sleep a little later. We got him up at 6:30 AM. When he came upstairs, he informed Helen that there was a 'present' for her at the bottom of the stairs. She immediately guessed that it was from Donovan. What do you think?
Clues: All three dogs had gone out, Tess and Mahler had peed, but none had pooped.
Most dogs pee before they poop, but Donovan usually poops then pees.
The pile was large in amount and texture.
A little later that morning, Helen was working at the computer trying to get something finished before she went to a meeting. She heard something in the kitchen, but figured that it was one of us licking the grill that had been used but not cleaned the night before. Later, when she came to the kitchen to get her breakfast, she found that the dish of mixed fruit that she had left on the counter was empty, except for one grape. Helen immediately suspected Mahler. Was she right?
Clues: All three dogs will eat fruit, although Donovan does so under protest.
All three dogs can reach the counter top.
Tess can stretch so that her front legs reach the counter top. She also is the one that will sit and point to food on the counter.
Donovan can reach the top with his nose, but with his surgery, is unable to jump up.
Mahler can gracefully get up on his hind legs and graze on the counter top.
Helen went to the bedroom and found the top sheet and blankets completely pulled off the bed. All of the dogs had been sleeping on the bed. Helen blamed Tess for the mess. Was she right?
Donovan tends to move covers and pillows around when he settles to sleep, but does not get under the covers.
Mahler does not sleep on the bed as much as the others, and tends to sleep in the bottom corner.
Tess gets under the covers. She can get out by moving covers only a little. However, she also sleeps soundly, wakes up suddenly, and then makes a mess tring to get out in a hurry.
December 25, 2002
We got up with Helen at 6:30 AM and helped her get the turkey into the oven and the potatoes on – we like crunchy raw potatoes. Dinner was at 11:30 AM, because Krista had to go to work. Helen really felt the spirit of the season and actually gave us turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy in our bowls after dinner. (But Don got sick later, so didn't really benefit from it). Of course, we also has peanut butter in the bones while they were opening the stockings earlier, and expect to get some nibblers when Helen finishes cleaning up and packaging the turkey.
We all have our toys -- somewhere. Don took his to bed with him this afternoon (oops, Tess is playing with Don's right now--well, they are having a tug of war! The squeaker is still working, as Tess teases Don!). Helen says that we will get the other toys gradually. So thanks for giving us packets that can last awhile. ( and we like the paintings that Christy did--we're going to help Helen and Dick and Erik figure out a place to put them.
We got a package of long tube socks. Dick and Erik tied some together so we can all get in on a tug of war. We even try to get people to play with us, just to test their strength. We had a good time when everyone opened presents all at once. Don tried to unwrap presents on Christmas Eve. However, he got too enthusiastic and grabbed the box of Krista's gift and growled at Helen and Krista. He got detention in the bathroom and wasn’t quite as eager to help open presents after that. Right now there are still pieces of wrapping paper everywhere. The paper came from everyone else's presents, so we shouldn't have to clean it up. Actually, people won't help us clean it up because we only tear the paper more.
This is our second Christmas together. We have the hang of how the celebration works. Thanks, everyone. The Dawgs.
December 28, 2002 ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
A whole year! We've actually been writing for a whole year!
And we are still telling tales on each other. Was Don ever in the doghouse tonight! Helen was making supper and had a block of cheese on the counter. She just left for a minute, but Don is fast and grabbed that cheese--actually a piece bigger than his mouth. Well, Helen grabbed his ears and held his head up so that he couldn't chew, but he could growl. He dropped a bit of the cheese and Helen stood guard so Mahler and I didn't stand a chance of getting it. When Helen finally figured out that Don wasn't going to let go of the rest of the cheese, she let go of his ears. Now this really presented a dilemma for Don. He tried to swallow the block of cheese -- whole. Got it part way down, then Mahler and I just watched as his throat said "no way!" Of course when he dumped the block on the floor, Helen grabbed his collar so he couldn't put his head down. I tried to stand there and just stare her back when she told me to get into the crate, but I'll have to just practice more 'cause she really has a wicked long stare. Mahler went into his crate and Don was put into the bathroom for a long time. He wasn't even allowed at the dinner table. It is rather sad, though, that he really didn't get to eat his prize cheese. Helen says that she didn't think that that much cheese would be good for him, but I think that she was just mad that he got the cheese in the first place.
Erik is teasing Tess with the pole to Helen's snowshoes. She will chase anything. She is really enjoying the snow in the yard. She races around, like with my squeaky toy in her mouth, to get Don and me to play. With the depth of the snow on Christmas, she actually had to bounce because it was too deep for her to run through it. My toy lasted the longest. They would have lasted longer but we always managed to start tugs of war with them. Now we are working on one of the ropes, that is holding up pretty well.
This seems to be "dump on Don" night. Glad that I give all of you so much pleasure. I'm just too nice to say anything mean about anyone else. I mean, the fact that Tess is always on the go is tiring. And Mahler gets to go out in the morning with Helen to get the paper-- special treatment. But I'll just be "Mr. Nice" and not complain at all. After all, I am feeling pretty good, and my hip isn't hurting and I am able to run and play. So I will continue to be pleasant, as long as I am allowed to sleep on the bed.