Dog Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I've been busy with appearances at the California Author's Booth at the State Fair. I'm appearing there again tomorrow night and Saturday and Sunday as well. I'll have had my fill of the fair this year, if that's possible. I love going there and strolling around watching the performers and seeing the exhibits. I enjoyed the fine arts exhibit this year, although I was dismayed to see the auctioning of Guinea pigs and other small animals to the general public in the Fur and Feathers exhibit. I wonder what they think will happen to that little creature they sold for $5? Are the buyers educated in the care of Guinea pigs or rabbits? The State Fair has never, in my opinion, been a bastion of kindness to animals with their food on the hoof animal barns, rodeos, and turkey stampedes. They finally outlawed the sale of live creatures on the carnival grounds, so the Guinea pig sale came as a surprise and shock to me.

On the positive side of animal sales, when I went to the Sacramento County Pound this afternoon (yes, looking for a basset hound), I was thrilled to see an empty space on the entrance wall where the bold red sign once proclaimed that the animals at the county facility could be sold to UC Davis and other laboratories for experiments (the only remaining animal facility in California to do so). Sacramento is finally taking some real strides in humane treatment of its animal citizens. Kudos to the Sacramento City Council for their decision to ban this hideous practice at a facility that refers to itself as one in the business of "animal care." Now if they could just become a no-kill facility, too. Unfortunately, the limited budget (thanks for that, too, Mr. President) and sheer numbers of animals surrendered there make that impossible.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy 83rd birthday, Mom! I hope it was happy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bubba is now an artist after our paw painting session at my mom's house with her two Scotties, Laddie and Duffy. I got the idea from the Painting for Paws fundraiser at Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary. I taped some watercolor paper together and put it down on the patio, then we dipped the dogs' paws in tempura paint. Each paw was a different color: red, blue, green and yellow. They weren't very cooperative so we had to put them on the paper and kind of move them around. The paintings turned out very well and will be a nice keepsake in years to come. I may have to rename Bubba Blue or Ol' Yeller since his paws were still stained blue and yellow the next day. We also made some rather interesting and colorful patterns on the patio and on the linoleum in the family room when we left the screen door ajar and all the dogs traipsed inside.

Bubba had his visit to the vet for his rabies booster. He had lost two pounds, weighing in at 62 pounds, which is okay since he needs to stay svelte. A vet tech took him into the back room to administer the shot. I dislike the increasing reliance of veterinary clinics on vet techs for procedures that were previously done by a licensed veterinarian. I'm sure there are many good vet techs, but I've seen some very inept and unprofessional ones in my experience who could not even take my dog's temperature without hurting her. I also dislike the policy at many clinics of not letting owners stay with their dogs during routine procedures, or any procedure. When you take your child to the doctor, the doctor doesn't take the child off into another room to do an exam. The parent is present. I prefer to stay with my fur child and, as PETA recommends, I will insist on doing so in the future, particularly for something as simple as a booster shot.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

According to the ancient Romans, these are the dog days of summer, and I've lost two of my dogs to the month named after the Roman Emperor Augustus. We lost our first basset Butterscotch on August 9, 1987 and we lost Patience on this day 10 years ago. How does a decade pass so quickly? To mark the day, I visited her and Bubba's Alma Mutter, the Sacramento County pound. I think I kind of half hoped I'd find a basset hound there in need of a home, but there were none. The beautiful greyhound had still not been adopted because she has "boundary issues." I can imagine those long, graceful legs would carry her easily over any fence, which is probably why she ended up where she is. She cried as I passed her kennel, and it broke my heart. I want a hound but not a greyhound, unfortunately. I do hope someone takes her.

After touring that facility again today, I have no qualms with the city's recent proposal to increase fees for unaltered dogs. There has been a howl of protest from local breeder groups. The so-called "responsible" breeders are claiming that they will be the ones who are penalized, not the backyard breeders targeted by the new ordinance. I'm sure there are plenty of responsible breeders around, but there are a lot more who call themselves that who really are just in it for the money and don't care about the fate of their litters. I wonder how many of them actually show their dogs in Westminster? Very few, I'd venture to guess. I also wonder how many of them have visited the pounds and shelters lately to see the end result of their business venture? All of my adopted bassets have been products of these "responsible" breeders. Besides, with all the money they make from selling their pups to people who too often end up dumping them at shelters regardless of any pedigree they might have, they should have no trouble paying extra to license their unaltered breeding stock. An ad I've seen in the Sacramento Bee for several days now pleads for help and states that they've reduced the price of their litter of Golden Retriever pups from $750 to $295. They must be sold before they leave on vacation to Disney World. Or else what? I rest my case.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Today I finished my pastel portrait of Daisy that I began painting while she was still with me. It was hard working on it without her there to keep me company in the garden like she did when she was alive, but it was something I had to complete. I feel better for having done it, and I'm pleased with the results. When I showed it to my friend, she said she thought I had captured Daisy's essence. I think Daisy helped me capture her essence. I'm sure my girl was watching over my shoulder as I painted her.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The weather is heating up just in time for the State Fair, of course. I've never been to the fair when it wasn't blistering hot. Fortunately, the author's booth is in an air conditioned building. I hear we have an excellent location for the booth, right between Channel 10 news and Cinnabon. Cinnabon?!!! That aroma will drive me wild. Luckily, we're not allowed to eat in the booth or I'd end up looking like a Cinnabon by the last day of the Fair. I've been offered another shift this Saturday, four in all. It should be a busy day, since the Fair starts tomorrow. I hope so. I have a lot of books to sell.

I postponed Bubba's vet visit until next Wednesday. He's eating regularly again and seems to be in better spirits than he was, so I'm not as concerned as I was. He walked ME this morning, all the way down to the park, wanting to criss-cross the busy thoroughfare as we went. Our first basset, Butter, was like that. She never walked a straight line. She always wanted to cross the street to see if there were better things to sniff over there, which answers the age-old question, "Why did the basset cross the road?"

There was a cluster of wild daisies growing right beside the big bush at the park that Daisy loved to water (Bubba does, too). I picked one and pressed it in my journal. She's still giving me a daisy a day to remember her by.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bubba seemed more playful today and his appetite has improved. I took him to the river this morning, and we walked the path I've walked with my other dogs that meanders through the underbrush. I ran into some friends who walked along with us. There's still a thick layer of white on everything from the blizzard of cottonwood the past couple of months. It was slow going, and I think my friends were wanting to move a little faster. Never walk with a woman who's walking a basset if you want to take a brisk nature walk. Bubba enjoyed sniffing every leaf and blade of grass. We stopped at a familiar spot to watch some geese drifting in a lagoon. I keep meaning to take my camera and binoculars. It's a lovely scene in the morning with the light just so on the water--something I'd like to paint sometime. Bubba showed his gratitude for our adventure by coming in and sitting on my foot, something he only does to his dad. I don't think he's ever done that with me before.

I feel very fortunate to live within walking distance of the American River. It's a wonderful nature retreat from the noise and traffic of the city. I've lived near the river since 1968, but I see much more wildlife now than I ever did then. We never saw deer, cougars, coyotes, or anywhere near the numbers and varieties of birds in those days. With all the development in Sacramento since then I suppose they have no place left to go.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bubba and I sat out in the garden under the full moon this evening. It was nice and cool out there. I tried to get him to howl at it the way I used to get him and Daisy to howl in chorus, but he wouldn't. I guess it's just not the same without his duet partner. They did make beautiful music together. I'm surprised he came out there with me at all, since he won't do so in the daytime when I'd like for him to keep me company. I really miss having Daisy out there with me and wish now I'd spent more time with her there than I did. I'm taking Bubba to the vet on Thursday for a checkup and to get his rabies booster. I'm worried about my boy. He doesn't eat very much and is looking very thin. I remember our cat, Tabby, went through this, too, after our first basset, Butter, died. Whoever says that animals don't feel human emotions is nuts! It's clear to me from seeing Bubba grieve for Daisy that they definitely do. In fact, he seems to be taking it harder than I am, if that's possible. If this keeps up I may have to relent and find him another buddy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The weather has cooled tremendously, and it's wonderful! I can walk Bubba any time of day and not worry about his overheating. I'm trying to keep life as interesting as I can for him, but he does not seem very happy these past few weeks. He's not eating very well, either. Not that he couldn't spare a few pounds. I hope it is not because of Daisy's conspicuous absence, but I fear it is. Of course, I know exactly how he feels. I'm still missing her terribly, too. Every day. Hardly a moment goes by that I don't think of her, although when I'm busy it's better. Keeping busy is a good antidote for me, but all Bubba does is lie around and sleep when he's not being walked. He's an old dog, and old dogs sleep a lot, but I saw much more life in him before Daisy died. Apparently, he even misses the competition over food at suppertime. He won't claim any space that was hers--sleeping or eating space. She's still alpha even though she's no longer here. It's amazing that he could miss her so doggone much when she was so nasty to him his whole life. He's due for his rabies shot, so when I take him in for it I'll ask the vet what she thinks about his condition. Could he be a candidate for Prozac? I hate seeing him mope around this way, but I'm really not ready to adopt another dog yet. Having one dog to care for is much easier than having two, but I also understand that pack animals like bassets are happiest when in the company of other bassets. I have to admit that it just doesn't seem like a pack around here any more since Daisy's been gone, and I'm sure Bubba is sensing that, too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I got the word from my editor that the nonfiction book I completed (Bow WOW! 150 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active) is now in production. I won't see it again until I receive the galleys. I'm glad that it's finally finished so I can get back to my fiction writing. I dedicated the book to Daisy, and it will be out in 2007.

Bubba just barged into my office after his gourmet dinner of chicken and a little of my leftover salmon mixed with his kibble to wipe his mouth on the big orange napkin, otherwise known as the carpet. This carpet has really been through the mill with the last 5 dogs I've had. It's actually more brown than orange now. I suppose someday I'll have to replace it.

I don't know what possessed me, but I found myself over at the Sacramento County pound this afternoon (I had to go to the post office nearby). What a sad place, and it's way too full this time of year. Nearly every kennel had three or more dogs in it. Too many of them were pit bulls or pit bull mixes. People typically dump their poor dogs when they go on vacation because they don't want to pay for their care, and dogs can also get lost when people travel. I can never come out of there without crying, but I also realized I'm not ready for another dog yet. Mind you, if there had been a basset up for adoption, I don't know... The dogs sounded so pitiful--pleading, crying for liberation. And those eyes. How they look at you. You just want to take every one home, but you know you can't. They have no air conditioning in that place in the middle of summer. Unbelievable in a metropolitan city like Sacramento. Seems like some of the money they take in from selling companion animals to research labs could be used to install some A/C in their facility.

Actually, it looks like that hideous policy may be about to come to an end, at least insofar as selling dogs and cats to UC Davis labs, although they may still continue to sell to Sutter Healthcare. There was a hearing yesterday at the Sac. Co. Board of Supervisors' downtown. I went down there to be heard, but someone told me the wrong time for the meeting, so I missed it. I never heard the outcome on the evening news, either. They make their decision on August 9. Since Sacramento County Animal Care & Regulation (let's call a spade a spade--it's a pound, folks) is the only facility in California that sells people's pets to research labs, the decision had better be in favor of discontinuing that policy. That's where my Bubba and Patience came from; my parents got their Scotties there, too. What a horrid thought that any of our dogs might have had a fate like that. Actually some of the litter of Scotties my parents' dogs came from did end up at UCD labs. Even the pound powers that be say it's a PR nightmare and hardly worth what they take in. I don't see a lot of difference between this policy and China's latest method of addressing their animal problems. Subjecting loving animals that were people's pets to unnecessary lab experiments is every bit as cruel, in my opinion.

Isn't it bad enough that humans club baby seals in Antarctica? Now dogs in China, too? 50,000 of them to be exact, due to a rabies outbreak. Ever heard of rabies vaccine, guys? They beat people's pets to death right in front of them as they walked them down the street. They made noise and caused dogs to bark, then went in people's yards and killed them. They offered owners 69 cents to kill their dogs themselves. What an utter disgrace in any country in this day and age! I support PETA in boycotting all Chinese products, but since they produce just about everything Americans consume, that will certainly be a challenge.

I'll be selling my books at the California State Fair on August 20, 27, and September 3. I never dreamed I'd be asked to participate and am thrilled to be doing so. I've missed attending only one State Fair in my entire life and that's because I was in the hospital. I'm looking forward to this one even more than usual. I hope it's close to the Old State Fair taco stand, my perennial favorite. I've been eating those yummy tacos ever since I was a kid and we used to go to the wonderful old State Fair on Stockton Boulevard. It's the one time of year I love to eat myself sick at the Fair foodfest.