Dog Blog

Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's hard to believe another year has flown so quickly by. I leave behind in the old year my best friend, Daisy, who gave me so much happiness and devotion during her brief time on earth. But I enter the new year with a new friend, a peach of a girl named Peaches, who is also devoted to me already. She's gentle and sweet. Once she settles into her new life and feels more at home here she is going to be a wonderful, loving companion, and I'm glad she's come into our lives. Today was a more peaceful day between our new dog and our old one. Just one minor grumble from Bubba over a Milkbone Peaches came too close to. I think in time they'll be good friends and contented packmates.

May 2007 bring you blessings, good fortune, and wishes fulfilled. A toast to happiness, health, peace, and prosperity for all.

Happy New Year to you and to your best fur friends. May every dog this night enjoy a warm hearth and a full belly, as mine are, and to their humans the same.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

This was our first full day with our adoptee, who we have decided to name Peaches, or at least she now has a brass tag with that name engraved on it. I also bought her a new collar and leash--peach colored. A new leash on life, so to speak. It's hard choosing just the right name, but since she seems like such a peach of a girl, it seemed like a good name for her. She and Bubba are having a period of adjustment, as are we all. It's not easy bringing a new dog into the house and kind of turns everything upside down. You lose sleep, just like with a new baby, and I sure did last night listening for any sound of her moving around, as we hadn't mastered the dog doors yet. Fortunately, she slept through the night without a peep.

Although she is far from a pup, she is quite lively, and I hope not too much so for my old boy. He's set in his ways (as are we) and hasn't taken to her as quickly as I'd hoped he would, but these things take time and patience. Perhaps he was not as sad about being an only dog as I thought he was, but she's here to stay, and they'll just have to learn to coexist peacefully, with our help and supervision. Bubba's not a vicious dog, but he's definitely trying maintain his top dog status, and she tries to push the envelope sometimes. We try to keep things cordial, but it's a challenge. The way they were introduced at the SPCA was far from ideal. I'm frankly surprised at how it was handled by staff because they are supposed to know dogs so well. I tried to tell the young woman who was so adamant that she knew what she was doing (and claimed she had a basset, which I strongly doubt) that it was better to take them out on the lawn off leash, where they could interact unfettered as dogs are meant to and would do in the wild. Being on leash, especially if it's being pulled taut as she was doing (after I told her not to), can trigger aggression when the dog feels he is either protecting his owner or is not able to approach another dog on his own terms or escape if there's a need to.

We made some progress with using the doggie doors today, although she made one pee-pee mistake in the house. I think because she was scared by a baby gate that fell over. We'll have to monitor them more closely the rest of the weekend. She'll get the hang of it. She's a smart little dog. Maybe too smart! Very sweet and loving, though, with not a mean bone in her skinny little body, which is already plumping out a bit from some good eating. Hoping for a more restful night.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

At long last I finally found a basset! She's a tri-color (mostly black with a white streak on her back), 3 1/2 years old, and a real sweetheart. A petite little thing, she looks for the world like our Daisy, but her personality is totally opposite of hers, fortunately. Not to speak ill of the dead, Daisy had some dominance issues that made living with her a challenge for all of us. This dog seems to have none of those problems. She received a passing grade on behavior from those who evaluated her at the SPCA, where I adopted her this afternoon. Yesterday I was going to make the pound rounds again in search of a dog but it was too close to closing time. When I got home, I decided to try calling the SPCA once more on the outside chance that they had taken in a basset over the holidays. I was told one had come in that very afternoon and they couldn't hold her over the phone (they'll only hold a dog four hours) but to be out there at opening time the next day. I was there with bells on at 11:00 when the doors opened. I stood out in the freezing wind waiting. I wasn't going to let this one get away. Something kept telling me this time it would all work out perfectly and that she was meant for me.

I bonded with her immediately, and she was very affectionate toward me. I just knew she was the one the minute I saw her. She kept coming over to me and planting herself between my legs and looking up at me adoringly. I showered her with kisses, which she seemed to appreciate--I imagine she's had few enough of those in her life thus far. I took Bubba out to the shelter to meet her, and they got along fine, although the rude, stubborn staff member who thought she knew my dog better than I do almost screwed up their meeting by pulling on his leash, which sometimes makes him get a little testy. He socializes better with other dogs when he's off the leash, but she had a hissy fit when I took him off the leash in the room with the little basset. I can understand the reasoning behind introducing them on leash, especially since someone's Lhasa had been attacked by a Rottweiler off leash out front of the shelter earlier that morning. I've not seen too many attack bassets in my experience with the breed, but you never know what their background has been. I'm pretty good at reading dogs, though, and I saw no signs of trouble from either dog. The woman really did not have to be so argumentative and confrontational with a potentional adopter, though. She was very off-putting, not only to me but other visitors, and I was glad when she left me with the other pleasant staff member. Making the adoption process more pleasant for people might help them adopt out more dogs, and after I have taken possession of my dog, I intend to write a letter to them about my adoption experience there. Anyway, Bubba and Belle (I think that's what I'll call her) didn't pay a lot of attention to each other in the play yard, but I expect they'll get better acquainted when she comes home tomorrow after her surgery. I hope there are no complications as there were with one of my bassets, Dolly, who later died from a botched spay procedure.

This has been the most perfect Christmas ever. I got everything I hoped for: Maxwell nominations, a white Christmas at Tahoe, and best of all, another basset to love.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate in December. Bubba and I had our first white Christmas at Lake Tahoe, although the snow was rather sparse. The big storm that would dump a ton of snow was heading in just as we were heading out for home. I don't think Bubba likes the snow as much as Daisy did, though. She loved bounding through the snow, but Bubba doesn't like getting his feet wet. I suppose Santa Paws should have brought him some snow shoes, like he did Mom. I had a lot of fun trudging around the cabin on them. Great exercise!

Bubba is really more of a downtown hound and enjoyed window shopping at the new stores near Stateline and getting lots of attention from passersby. One young man with a thick French accent really made over him and said he has a black and white basset. One Frenchman greeting another--I loved it! Bubba's favorite store at South Tahoe is Two Dogs and a Cat. We took him there one day, and the next day when I was walking him down the sidewalk, he stopped at the door to the shop and just stood there looking inside and wagging his tail. Who says dogs don't have a good memory or that bassets aren't smart? I took the hint, opened the door, and let him go inside to do a little sniffing around. He was fussed over by patrons and staff and given his favorite treat, Dr. Becker's Bites. I bought him two bags full of them, because he's a real fan. Santa Paws also brought him a few treats, so Bubba's going to be living high off the rawhide chewy for quite some time.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Santa came early for me this year. I found out I've been nominated in two categories for the 2006 Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers' Association of America. One is for Best Newspaper Column (Pets & Their People) and Best Book: Fiction (Sirius About Murder. I can't think of a better gift! For the full list of nominees,

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's doggone hard finding time to blog this time of year. So much to do; so little time. I still haven't bought all the gifts or even gotten a Christmas tree up, mostly because I've been sick the past two weeks with bronchitis. This year I'm getting a smaller tree just for the animal ornaments I've collected over the years. I usually get a bigger tree, but I hate spending so much money on a dead tree and pulling out all those ornaments I have. This year I have a new one to add for Daisy. It will probably make me sad to put a tree up this year because she won't be there. She always liked to keep me company in the living room while I was decorating the tree. It was our thing. I have a photo of her when she was young, and she's lying under the tree with a red bow stuck on her head. She was such a pretty dog. I still miss her so much.

On the bright side, I thought I had found a young red and white female basset recently. I've had a weakness for them since I had my first basset hound, Butter, and my little Dolly, who was also the red and white variety. I saw this little dog listed in the Found ads of the newspaper. I called and put dibs on her if the owner didn't claim her. She was apparently found by a samaritan and turned into the veterinary hospital. They were fostering her until her owner could hopefully be located. The staff took my number and told me they had to wait for 30 days before releasing her for adoption, in case the rightful owner showed up. Fair enough. But when I called back a week or so later after not spotting the ad in the paper one day, I was told a staff member had adopted her. At first I let it go, but then I called them back and asked why I was told I had to wait 30 days to adopt the dog but they allowed someone on the staff to adopt her after I had requested to first. The manager admitted they shouldn't have done that and then tried to steer me off the dog by saying her spay surgery would cost more because she had an umbilical hernia. That wouldn't have made any difference to me. The truth is that they were not forthright with me about the dog, so it looks like I won't get a chance to adopt her. I suppose the most important thing is that she'll be homed for Christmas with a responsible owner, but I sure would have loved to adopt that dog.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The pet section in the newspaper fills a full page this time of year with litters of puppies for sale, and I'm seeing the all-too-familiar attention grabbers, "Ready for Christmas," "Perfect for Christmas," and the like. And just as happens every year, people will fall prey to the old puppy under the Christmas tree fable that still proliferates in holiday ads. They'll rush out to purchase the breed du jour before they've thoroughly researched the breed and determined whether they and their family and lifestyle are a good match for that particular breed of dog. They'll likely pay too much money for an ill-bred dog that may harbor inherited health or behavior problems due to careless breeding that will become too costly or troublesome because, of course, the commitment to that pet was only a seasonal whim intended to delight little Johnny or Janey when a stuffed toy dog from Santa would have sufficed. Stuffed toys don't chew, shed, or piddle and poop on the carpet. They don't need to be trained or walked or fed or taken to the vet. By this time next year, a large percentage of this year's holiday surprises that have long outgrown their puppy cuteness will have found their way to shelters and rescue groups. They have no clue why their families have abandoned them this way. Their hearts and spirits are broken. They tried so hard to please. If those surrendered dogs are very, very lucky, they may be rehomed for Christmas with people who will keep them safe and healthy and love them forever. More frequently, the ending to the fable isn't nearly as pretty as the bow on the box that barked under the tree last Christmas morning.