This Time Change Thing, My Dog Is Not A Fan And Neither Am I

The best time of the day to get a long walk in is before dawn.

At least for me.  Your mileage may vary.  Mine certainly does.

I am normally up before dawn, except the “High Summer” when it’s hot and the sun gets over The Bahamas at Four-Freaking-Why-Am-I-Up-Again O’Clock.  It is a holdover from when I was doing marathon inline skating workouts and semi-competing all over Philadelphia and Fairmount Park.  Going from City Line to Valley Forge as a third of a workout means you go early, you go long.

Bring plenty of snacks.

But this is much more mundane.  There’s a reason now to do these walks.  Keeping the dog sane.

He is Rack, the Mc Nab SuperDog(TM) who can run faster than the speed of light through a wormhole that we discovered behind the shed in the back corner of the yard.  He’s also tearing up the turf since he can corner sharper than a dime.  All those right angle turns will take energy and when you are leaning over to bank the turn at 89.999 degrees, you’re going to rip up a little grass.

Maybe I should put something up there, shift his path a little bit.

But I get up with my usual schedule at the Five O’Clock In The Morning Bonus Hour and get the walk in while it is still what passes for cool here in the place where weather can usually be described as “Being in someone else’s bathroom while they take a long hot shower” Warm.

Just go in your bathroom, turn on the water full hot, close the door and wait for the air to steam up.

Yeah, like that.

But it’s what passes for Spring, the highs are still in the 80s and the mornings are quite pleasant.

So time to take the dog out for A Long Walk of about a mile and a quarter.  Lots of switchbacks, and turns around my neighborhood so that I am not walking the same block twice.  You don’t want to do that at 5 AM because, things.  Someone might be out and about and wonder why you are too.

However that didn’t happen that particular day.  It is because we, and many other countries, have an insane habit of Spring Ahead, Fall Back.  Daylight Savings Time.  Like that really “saves” anything.  More like cutting the end of a string off and tying it to the beginning to make it better.

While you get the time back eventually, it never is actually lost.  Just annoys you while you readjust your schedule.  Has me thinking “Will you people make up your mind?”.

But nobody else was thinking that this morning.  By nobody, I really mean nobody.  Quiet like a tomb.  Creepy like a cemetery.  Chill down your spine creepy.

You see, when I walk down Wilton Drive, the spine of the business district in Wilton Manors, I expect certain activity.  Delivery Trucks bringing food to the restaurant to be restocked and cooked later.  The barbacks and crews cleaning the bars.  One guy sitting in the desk in the travel agency talking business to someone over in Europe somewhere.  Same stuff different walk.

This day?  Nothing.

I did say like a tomb.  Not a soul walking around except me wondering where everyone was.

It’s like someone decided to adjust their clocks or something!

I got off The Drive, and headed back on the second half of the walk through the neighborhood.  Past the darkened apartments where nobody had their yappy little dogs barking at the skies.  No airplanes overhead.  No other dog walkers.

Nothing.  Got that pin?  Drop it, I’m sure you could hear it.  Not even the breezes were moving that morning.

I did manage to spot Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, or what I believe are them, where they belonged and moving slightly each day.  They’re in a line, or more accurately, an arc, across the skies.  I’ll lose Mars first, then probably lose track of the other two.  But for now, it occupies my empty mind.

Looking down at Rack I say “weird morning huh?”

He wags his tail once or twice, then goes back to sniffing a leaf.

“Nobody out yet!”
Did I mention that his English is getting stronger?  He gave a vigorous wag to that as if to say “Definitely”.

“We’ll be home soon enough, this walk is just strange”

Even a stronger wag, and he looked back at me to nod “Yes”.

He knows what the concept of  “Yes” is since I taught him that it gives him things he wants.  You should see the little comic nodding his head to get out the door.  He’s about to nod that head off his neck.

But we plodded through the neighborhood, out of the apartment areas, past the McMansions, and into the Old Florida Homes that look much more reasonable here.  Low slung to hunker down in case of a storm, a one level home lets the trees block the winds for you in case of a hurricane and they’re much more likely to survive when the two or three level condo loses its roof.

That roof that will end up in your swimming pool, of course.

We get on Our Street and keep going.  Rack is tired now, after a mile and a quarter of walking.

“That’s it buddy, time to wash your feet.  Some day you’ll stop painting your white legs yellow!”.

He nods his head “Yes” again.

I grab the hose, wash them down, walk him through the grass to wipe the pads off and we’re done.

Another creepy walk down.  I guess that’s what happens when everyone is still asleep.

Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Just a nice walk around town.

On A Good Day, They’re Still A Dog. How Rack Is Afraid of Buddha

I used to take trips with my dog, Lettie.  She was what we call a “Mostly Mc Nab”.  Part McNab Dog, Part Border Collie.  She would curl up on the seat of the car and mind her own business until she thought there was something that needed attention.  Snap my fingers, there she was.

My own philosophy of training a dog is not to treat them like a human, but expect more of them than a dog.  In otherwords: complex behaviors yes, “Sit Up And Beg” no.

One trip from Philadelphia to Florida, Lettie was with me.  She was riding in the Jeep, sometimes top down, sometimes not.  We hit a shower with the roof down and she just looked up at me, judged me silently, and curled back into a DogBall with her tail over her face as if to say “Hey, stupid, pull over and put the roof up!”.

We pulled into the rest stop.  I got the roof up in the drizzle that was now ending, and she hopped out of the car.  I wasn’t too worried, she knew what she wanted.  The light pole at the end of the parking space was calling her.  I left the door open, she climbed up and went back to dog ball.

Next to me was a police cruiser.  I closed the door to the car, and the officer got out with his dog.  There was that same bond that I had with my Lettie.  You just seem to fit together, hand and glove.  We talked about that sort of training and he made his comment.  There are days when dogs don’t get it right because “On a good day, they’re still a dog”.

Just don’t expect too much.

On the beach we arrived.  I’d take her out for her march around town.  There was an apartment building there that was rather close to the walkway.  In front of the walkway was a concrete Lion.

Lettie got it wrong.  Fur went up.  Teeth bared.  She started barking at the ornament.  That thing didn’t belong.  I stopped her, got her calmed down, even showed her what she did.  The rest of the walk she acted much more toned down, even submissive, if an Alpha Dog could ever be submissive.

I was thinking about that the other night.  Rack has the same knife edged sharp intelligence as Lettie did.  He’s a pure-blooded McNab Dog.  At least we think he is because he looks like the textbook and acts like one.  We’ll never know because he’s a rescue.

He takes notice of things around town.  He knows where the restaurant is that they come out and fuss over him with cookies, and he knows where the ice cream shop is that he can go to socialize from time to time.  He’s learning which local dogs to avoid, and which businesses have an out of control yapper inside that will lunge at the door.

If your dog lunges out of control, you are not the boss, your dog is.  Train the dog.  You will both be happier.

It usually has those abstracts that all look roughly the same, smudges of color meant to look nice and inoffensive.  You might expect to see that sort of thing in a corridor somewhere.  I don’t really pay the gallery all that much attention.

All of the sudden Rack starts barking like crazy.  Something was out of place.  I looked at him and he was barking at the door.

There was someone looking back at him.  Buddha.

Sitting on a small table by the door was a concrete or resin statuary of Buddha.  About the size of a small child, it sat there serenely watching things go by.  The Thai art tradition, it had a head dress on it and a card next to it announcing the gallery’s services.

Rack did not like this at all.  It was out of place, and it threatened him by looking back at him.


Rack, stop.

“Grrr, WOO WOO Grrr”

He slowed down to a slow grumble.  His normal fearful self came out.  Leaning about 45 degrees to the ground on his purple leash, the fur on his back was standing as close to straight up as you could get.

It’s OK, boy, lets go.

He scrabbled an arc away from Buddha and we went on his way.

Yep.  On his best day, he’s still a dog.   We’ll have to work on that one.  I bet next time he will become one with the Buddha and approach enlightenment that the statue shall not harm him.

I hope he will.  Silly dog.

Velcro Dogs Are There If You Need Them Or Not

You know if you have one.

You are in the house, going about your business, and two feet away from your leg is a pair of soulful eyes

and a ball of fur.

In my case, it’s a little further away and mostly black fur with white accents, but the feeling is the same.

They’re called Velcro Dogs.  They require their own way of dealing with them.  Their own discipline. 

Some people aren’t the kind of people who like being that close to another creature.

You have to wonder why they got a dog in the first place.  It’s a case of being given the privilege of being asked to be the leader and showing them through life.

Yes, Asked.  You have a dog who isn’t an alpha and wants to know what it can do.  Not always for itself, but for you.

So show it.  Now that you have been promoted to Boss, do something with the job.

My Back Of The Pack Beta dog Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) is starting to ask.  He’s not glued to my right calf.  Actually I insist he walks on my left side since I am very right handed.  But what he’s doing in his own gentle way is to follow me around the house.  If I go to another room he will wait to see if I am coming back.  If I don’t he gets up and moves over to the same room I am in and picks a spot.  Since I have mats in every room for him to sit on, it’s a compromise.

There are other dogs that will literally sit under you when you’re at the desk.  It can be unnerving but they’re there for their own reason.  They want to be available if you need them.

Mine is helping me learn Spanish.

There’s a small area of about a yard/meter square in the corner next to my Big Green Chair.  He would hide

back there if I left it open so I keep an old cooler back in the corner just so that he can’t hide there unless I want it.  I move the couch in place to block access unless I’m over there.  If I am not sitting in the Big Green Chair, he actually will park in the corner so that he can look out at what is going on, watching.

I put myself in that chair, turn on the TV and put on one of the children’s programs in Spanish that I’m using to learn with.  Sure, Plaza Sesamo or “Los Pies Magicos de Franny” is juvenile and basic, but basic is what you need when you’re told by Duolingo that you are only 50% fluent in the language.  There are other programs, but all are chosen for simple sentence structure.

Animal shows in Spanish with Closed Captioning can be remarkably educational and remarkably helpful.

All I have to do is to move, and Rack alerts to watch what I’m doing.  Shift in the chair and he lifts his head

to see what I am doing.

Get out of the chair and he listens.  If I am in the kitchen too long, he gets up and walks in.  Back to the bathroom and he walks past to make sure I am there, then sits just out of sight.  Return to the chair and he’s back by my side, gazing up at me with those twin brown eyes, then settles in, job done.

Uber Beta Dogs don’t confront, they do what they have to without being noticed.  He will grow out of that as confidence builds.

So if your dog is velcroed to the leg, consider what the dog is telling you.  It’s asking you to show it what you want of it.  If your dog has a play drive, toss a ball for a bit.  Think of that as a bonding exercise.

It is an endearing way of saying “What’s next, Boss?”.

How Can I Tell Rack’s Feeling More Confident? I’m Wearing Out Shoes

5AM I am usually not at my best.  Oh, sure, I’m awake, but I’m pretty much on Auto-Pilot. 

Left foot, right foot, through the morning for a while.

Somewhere about mid Dog Walk, I wake up more fully.

We start out with just about the same route every time, of course.  It’s out of the house, down the driveway, off the block.  By the time we get to Wilton Drive, my brain is sputtering to life.

I can tell Rack is waking up too.  Being as fearful as he is, we start with him putting his head into the harness.  I snap the clasps in place and he’s shivering a little.  Not from cold, but uncertainty of what is going to happen. 

But the shivering is getting less intense.  We go through this routine at the last walk of the day, he is nervous.  Who knows why, but I blame whoever he was unfortunate enough to have as a first owner.

Mind you, there are three walks we do.  Each one has its own routine.  Both we and the dogs like that.  Dogs in general like routine.  They can’t read a clock, but they can tell roughly what time of day it is based on what is going on in the environment. 

We’re on the drive and the Goya truck goes past, roaring at a speed I’d bet is well above the 30 MPH limit.  If it isn’t Goya, it’s the truck going to supply some of the shops, or maybe even the 50 Bus.  At least one, usually two or three of them will fly past.

Rack doesn’t like trucks.  When we first tried walking The Drive, he would flatten out like a pancake on the pavement.  Then he’d sit with the leash completely taught trying to get away.  Who knows why, it’s just something that happens.

Lately his reaction is noticeably less.  The ears go down, he’ll tug toward the nearest building but it isn’t the abject terror of before.

There definitely is an association between The Drive and noise or some sort of discomfort.  The association is weakening.  I know because there’s a strange thing happening.

Most mornings when we hit the end of that first block to turn back into the neighborhood and head back home, Rack has been trying to pull towards a longer walk. 

On The Drive.

The regular walk is just over 3/4 mile.  It’s a largish rectangle that we can do in about 20 minutes or less. 

This isn’t a regular walk.  We got to one of the few stoplights and I got towed toward the “wrong direction” instead of heading back home.

I said “Ok, Rack!”.
He looked back at me.
“Show Me Walk.”.

Show Me is a phrase I used with Lettie, my departed dog.  If I said that phrase even to someone else, she
would go to what she wanted and stare at it, then back at me until I gave it to her.   It wasn’t always food, it could be a toy, a door to go out, or even a leash for a walk.

Rack is starting to learn Show Me.  Sure, your dog can sit, but if it can’t tell you what it wants, you’re going to be limited to what you can do.

In this case Show Me gave me a walk on the entire drive, plus the blocks in The Neighborhood to get home.

At 5AM.  Ok, give or take. 

He’s not really all that fond of Long Walks in the middle of summer.  It was in the low 80s all week before sunrise.  The hottest walk of the day was above 90 on some of the walks.

Metric that translates to Bloody Hot For A Floridian Degrees Celsius.  A Floridian and his dog who are used to the heat.

The last Show Me Walk that we did, which was about the sixth pre-dawn walk that he did this in a row, was a mile and a third. 

Metric that translates to My Feet Hurt.  Two K’s.  Before coffee.

*grumble* OK, Rack, lets go!

Nice to know you’re feeling your oats and we don’t have to treat you like you aren’t quite so fragile.

If You Are Walking Your Dog In A Traffic Lane, You Are Doing It Wrong

Walking the dog early is usually the easiest lap around town. 

I wander out to Wilton Drive simply because there is just enough activity at 5AM to keep the dog on his toes.  Being very fearful of loud noises, having silence is not beneficial.  I actually look for a little bit of noise, just the right level, so that he will calm down.

He’s getting better, and starting to relax.  It’s 5AM, what else is up at that hour?

I was not paying too much attention to my surroundings other than to ask Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) whether he needed to “Go Poop?” over and over in a mantra. 

He didn’t.  Instead he gave his tail more than the usual four flips when I talk to him.  When the wagging didn’t stop but got more constant and more vigorous, I looked up and noticed about a long block away there was another dog.

Actually there were two little balls of fluff, one white, one black.  They were being walked by someone who was walking this way.

When he spotted me, he walked out into the traffic lane to give me more room than he really needed to.

Basically, if your dog is so untrained that you need to walk into a mostly deserted five lane highway, it is you that need to be trained.

I kept walking toward them.  Rack’s tail stopped wagging and dropped some.  He recognized the signs as

well.  Someone needed an education.

We both watched the two dogs and the owner as we got closer.  The owner was head down and picking up the noisier of the two dogs, an unstable little black bedroom slipper of a dog.  He was talking to the dog in low and gentle tones and picking it up.

I could see the other white dog backing away from the drama as if to say “Hey, this isn’t me!”.  It watched us dispassionately and even sat down.  The white dog was much more balanced, and even calm in this situation.

So what was the owner saying to the little black dog? 

Primarily he was feeding into the misbehavior.  Clearly the owner wanted the barking and the nonsense to stop.  He never hit that dog, and hitting a dog is both cruel and useless behavior, but nonetheless the dog was being mistreated.

Why “Mistreated”?  Because the owner was buying into the unwanted behavior by caressing the dog.  Instead of giving the dog a verbal correction when he saw the behavior start, he was feeding into the circular logic of the situation by picking up the lap dog and “comforting it”.  What he was doing to the dog was approving the behavior by giving it the attention it craved since lap dogs want to be handled. 

Different breeds have different personalities.  Certain dogs need to be handled, others to have a job, others to guard.  It’s all in understanding that personality and working with it and conversing with the dog in that context to make certain that behaviors are amplified only when they are beneficial to the dog’s well being.

Two dogs and a human in a traffic lane at 5:20 in the morning just to quiet a yapper down proves that the owner clearly was not in charge and not leading the pack.

At least the owner was taking the dog out for a walk, and for the size of the dogs it was going to be a significant one.  Little frou-frou yappers out on that particular spot of a commercial street were going to get more than a quarter mile walk even if he turned them around in frustration.

The best thing he could have done was to check himself.  He was clearly tense.  Shoulders were solid, back rigid as he bent down to talk to the dog – pointing himself backwards in an admittedly unused traffic lane. 

We passed.  The little white dog watched us pass but nothing really happened there, it was content.

The black dog was continuing its stamp of disapproval on its owner by growling and barking in mid air.

At that time of the morning the solution in my mind was simply to keep moving.  We never broke stride

even as we both watched the situation closely.  Rack was riveted on it as well.

I can only hope that this is a new dog owner.  I can say that it’s clearly too much for the owner.  Then again, some people shouldn’t have a picture of a stuffed animal let alone a dog.

So what’s wrong here? 

No rules – the dogs were on a 10 foot leash together and allowed to roam without direction or guidance all over the broadest part of the sidewalk. 

No boundaries and limitations – instead of being kept close to the owner where they would not be getting into trouble, they were given the freedom to wander all over the place. 

No, I’m not repeating myself.  The roaming in this case is that instead of merely being at the front of the leash it was in all directions, and the owner was not bringing the dogs back to task.  Ideally the dog should be at your side with a slack leash.  If you are at that point, the leash is merely a legal limitation, it probably can be off leash for a while, but it is best not to do so. 

If the leash is not slack, at least make certain it is not being pulled by an overeager dog.  That takes time, and it also shows how well the conversation between owner and dog is going.  If the leash is directly in front but pulled tight, it shows the dog knows where it is going.  That isn’t ideal, but it is markedly better than having a dog weaving all over the place.  A weaver of a dog like that and you are lost.

You really can read the leash of another dog and its owner to know how well trained the dog is.

When you find yourself in that situation where you have multiple dogs with some or all acting up, it’s time to reverse and regroup yourself and do something different.  Rehoming one or more is a possibility, but first try to keep the house together and walk the dogs separately.  Work with each.  After all, you have more than one walk a day, so make the quietest dog walk environment the walk where the pack is together, the busier one would be the separate walks.

Don’t want to do two walks with two dogs at a time?  Sorry, it’s that or find a trainer.   Not for the dogs, but for yourself. 

There’s a line that you hear about this sort of thing from time to time:  “Who’s walk is it anyway?”.

It’s not your walk, it’s the dog’s.  Take the time, calm yourself down, calm the dogs down, and take it one step at a time.  You will have a much better time at it and so will the dog.

Rack! Rack! Rack! Run! Run! Run!

I need to stick a video camera to my head.  Maybe glue an old cell phone to a baseball cap or borrow a Go Pro.

You see, we have a new game in town.  It used to be that I could just stomp or jump and Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) would run around the yard a couple times.  Keep that up for a good five or ten minutes and we end up with a tired dog.

A tired dog is a happy dog, right?

He got onto us and stopped running around after a good clap and stomp.

Not good.  That run just before the dog walk would have him go back to the wormhole behind the shed and do his business where the iguanas, opossums, and racoons would come into the yard at night.  Him leaving his business back there in the beach sand that passes for soil here left scents and kept the wildlife away.

Now before you get started, I like wildlife, I just don’t want it using my pool for a place to wash their food.  Cement ponds, movie stars?  Well the wildlife droppings doesn’t mix well with crystal clear salt system chlorinated pools.

When they pay the mortgage, they have a say.  I can hear someone say that already.

So, what to do?

I jumped once, and Rack got interested.

I’m a big guy.  6’4″ and 225 pounds.  My workouts consist of a lot of aerobic activity in the way of some very high speed inline skating and a lot of walking.  It also means that I’m a bit wobbly.  Oh, I am fine on my feet, but when I stop I end up shifting from foot to foot.  The phrase “Built for speed” is appropriate there.  You can make me wobble but I can’t easily be knocked down.  I’m too used to moving.

So I jumped again and this time I missed my landing.  I ended up stepping forward to remain upright.

Rack was immediately interested and ran over to my side.

I trotted away.
Rack ran past jumping the entire way.

Fine, Rack, since you like that sort of thing, lets try this…

“This” was me jumping and trotting around the palm tree and bougainvillea in a figure eight.

You can’t outrun a McNab Dog.  It doesn’t happen.  He was right on my heels.  However he did end up in front of me.

I chased him for a change chanting “Rack, Rack, Rack!  Run, Run, Run!” in an excited voice.

He did.  This brought back the energy I was trying to drain.   He started to chase me, while I was chasing him.  We were in a feed back loop.

Winding around the palm tree in ever tighter circles, it created a vortex.  The winds were effected and the trees started to bow into the calm in the center of the storm.  There was a collapse of space-time and Rack and I ended up falling into an area beyond the universe.

We saw the Tardis fly by and waved at Dr Who when he was doing his wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing.

I forget who slowed first but it was enough to break the spell.  Rack ended up flattened out on the grass rolling onto his back to show his joy that Dad, that’s me, figured out what to do next with this high energy black and white cookie of a dog.

Mmm, Black and White cookies!  Yum…..

I gave him a tummy rub, a well earned one, and then stopped. 

Rack’s brown eyes flashed potential excitement.
I trotted off again “Rack, Rack, Rack!  Run, Run, Run!”.

Rack sprung to action back onto his feet.  Leaping over the cashew tree, he was on my tail like a flash.  We had a second session of running around the palm tree and more high pitched laughter from me.

If the neighbors were home they’d laugh too.  It’s that kind of neighborhood.

After we fell back into normal space time post visit to Rack’s family on the other side of the wormhole in the alternate universe, we slowed down to a plod.

Both of us were tired, excited, but very, very happy.   We had created a new game.  It turns out that my running at full speed isn’t really necessary, a brisk walk is enough. All I need to do is walk toward him and say “Play!” and we’re at it again, giggling, and trying not to fall.

This game is that.  See who gets dizzy first.  It’s not always me, in fact I’d say it is probably equal, fifty-fifty.  Rack will flatten out when he needs a rest and I get to gather up my own wobbles and catch my breath.

Eventually I know it’s at its end.  Rack will either try to drink from the swimming pool or trot over to the back door looking to go inside.

“Water?” I ask and get a tail wag in return.

Nothing like a little fun with the dog, right?

What’s Cookin’ Dad? Hedgehogs?

You just can’t make this stuff up.

My dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) has a thing for Hedgehogs.

When I say a “thing” I mean a “I’m going to carry this around the house until it falls off” thing.

Every house that has pets, or rather pets and kids because after a fashion they are the same thing, has toys.  Toys that go everywhere.

I have a dog and a parrot and there are toys, fur, and feathers here.  If you are expecting a 1950s Mrs Cleaver house where everything sparkles I suggest you try the house down the block.  The one where I dropped off the mangoes the other day?  That one.  They have a housekeeper.  I’m too busy trying to live something that passes as a normal life while keeping up to date on technology.

Ever feel like you’re out hunting a moving target?  Yo.  That’s me.

The other day I was migrating from the dining room where I had my laptop set up, to the big green chair next to the window.  It was late enough after the dog walk that I wanted to push everything away and actually do what passes for relaxation here.  Turn on the TV, set the laptop on the table, plug it in and sit down and I hear….


That lump under my butt would be the hedgehog.

That noise called Rack over.  I didn’t really mean to call him over, but it was going to happen.  He left his new hedgehog on the chair.  I say “New” because we had found one in a thrift store for a dollar and got it to replace the original hedgehog.  Then there were two.  Recently having the pleasure of a house guest, Craig, bring us two more hedgehogs, we’re set for quite a while.  My little monster, Rack, is very gentle with his toys although he does have an unsettling habit of chewing the eyes off the stuffed beasts.

Handing the toy over to my dog with a cheerful “Hedgehog!  You’ve got a Hedgehog!”, I went back to what I was doing not thinking too deeply about it.  Getting goosed by a stuffed toy is one of the hazards of having dogs in the house.

The next day I started cooking.  It was time to make some pork tenderloin for lunches.  Since you can get a really good slice of pork for much less than the price of some really cheap hamburger beef, I go for the pork.  Besides, it can be leaner.  Crock pot cooked to 140F in barbecue sauce and slice in the sauce will finish the pork by bringing the entire pot up to safe temperature and you have a meal better than Mrs Cleaver ever made.

But it has its own challenges.  It makes me hungry enough to chew my leg off.  It perfumes the house with whichever recipe I choose to make for that day, and usually a hint on the air for a day or three after.  It gets the parrot saying Hello every time I walk into the kitchen.  He begs.  Constantly.  I am a soft touch, so I usually toss a bit of fruit at the parrot because if he doesn’t get what he wants, he can get loud.

Ear shatteringly loud.  Like Mount Krakatoa loud.  The noise that circled the world four times loud.  All from a pirate parrot bird.  SHADDAP!

But that merely brought Rack into the kitchen snuffling around.  He’s looking for handouts as well.  I didn’t want to get him started doing that begging thing but I’m used to it.  Practically every time I go into the kitchen, he’s on task with the twin brown laser beams.

I turned around and stopped.  “How on Earth did you?”.  He had a hedgehog stuck to his collar.

He also wanted some of that pork tenderloin that was swimming in the red Char Siu Barbecue sauce I had made up that morning.

Laughing I said “No matter how creative you are going to be with that toy, I am not giving out samples at this time!”.

He merely licked his lips and went back to staring at the crock pot.

A loud “HELLO!” came from the other room.

I freed the toy from Rack’s Collar and pet him on the head.  I was wrong thinking that would send him on his way.  He simply sat there and stared me down.

“Sorry, boy, you’re out of luck this morning.  This is for lunch!”.

It only takes 3 1/2 hours to get a 3 1/2 pound pork tenderloin to cook to temperature. 

Lunch was going to be a good one for me, and a sample for Rack.  Oscar the parrot? Nope.  Not happening.  I didn’t have the right vegetables for him.  But we did all enjoy it.

Even the hedgehog.

Removing a Catheter is a Happy Dog Day

Pretty simple really.  We had to be at the Vet’s by 9:30.  We were about 5 minutes late. 

Rack needed to water the tree first, anyway.  After a day of being pumped full of fluids, he needed to pump them back out.  He also drank a full bowl of water.  That’s 28 ounces according to the Fridge.

After going through sepsis from a dog bite, and spending the entire day in a crate, he seems to be back to his normal self.   Almost, anyway.  Standing up is still a little stiff, but the first walk this morning was done with him dragging me for a mile around town on his four legs instead of him doing the tripod hop on three.

I’ve still got a course of antibiotics to go through, and there is one last “exit” visit to the vet on Saturday Morning, but I think we’re good.

Nothing like a nice quick visit.

 They will tell you they’re feeling better.   Instead of Rack wanting nothing to do with anyone, we were greeted by him being excited and whiny.  Whine to say hi to the vet tech.  Whine to say hello to the puppy in the back.  Whine to the nurse.  Whine to the door to go out and water the tree, yet again.

But he’s on the mend. 

He even whined at another car on the way back. 

That’s a bit of a surprise.   You see there was a delivery truck near us too.  Rack has a strange habit around big trucks.  He tries to avoid them.  He avoids them by diving down behind the seat in the back and trying to make himself as small as possible.   Since I was sitting in the back with him taking up half the back of the four door Accord, it wasn’t possible.  Instead, he whined at that truck, tried to dive under the blanket, then bailed and simply watched the truck from next to me.  All the while he was doing that, he was staring a hole through it from the seat.

Silly dog.

But definitely on the mend, no matter what.

So Why Is Your Dog In A Restaurant and Out Of Control?

You have a “Designer Dog“.  A little bit of a thing not much larger than a Beanie
Baby or a Teddy Bear.

Maybe you have your own macho designs and have a bully breed.  Plops down next to you wherever you go.  Loyal dog who will walk through fire for you.

Could be a mid sized dog, a terrier or a collie
Amazing dogs of high intelligence that can do tricks, but also capable of reason and problem solving.

Great.  I don’t want to hear them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a dog owner who likes taking my dog out around town.  When I heard that the restaurants in the neighboring city of Fort Lauderdale allowed dogs in their outdoor areas, I knew bedlam was about to ensue.

Typically those people who insist their dogs come with them into restaurants or other crowded places like Shopping Malls treat their dogs as a “Child Analogue”.  They are trying to make a dog act like a child.   They have them in strollers – an annoying appliance in the best of times, or in a purse.  Ok, not necessarily a purse but a bag about the size I used to cram my gym gear in when I went for a workout.

Now that dog is forced to act unnaturally.  It is expected not to sniff the food as it goes by.  It is expected not to jump when the waiter five tables over drops a dish a little too loudly in front of the patron.  It is expected that it is not going to be in the way while it sits in an aisle while you step on its tail or bump into it on that little purse looking thing that you have hanging on the corner of your chair.

“Your fault” you are told when the dog snaps at you for a misstep.

Here’s a better answer.  Leave the dog home.  If you can’t leave the dog home, take the dog for a ride, in the car, to the dog park and actually interact with the dog.  Both of you will be better for the experience.

The hardest part of having a dog that is learning fast how to be properly behaved is
to realize that not everyone else wants a dog but a fashion accessory.  When my own dog, Rack, who’s favorite thing in the world is to meet other dogs backs away from YOUR dog, I know there’s a major malfunction going on here. 

If your dog is barking at another dog 20 feet away on a street or sidewalk, your dog is in need of training, and you, personally, need some of it yourself.

A “Cute Little Yorkie” on an impossibly long leash in a crowd is an accident waiting to happen.  When that cute little Yorkie gets spooked and decides to bark its fool head off, don’t blame the boot when it finds the dog.

A bit severe? Perhaps, but you know what’s going on in the mind of that person right now who had the altercation with your “Sweet Little Dog”, right?

Person in a mall, good.  Dog in a mall, bad.
Person in a restaurant, good.  Dog in a restaurant, bad and probably unsanitary.

No, Ma’am I don’t want little Frou Frou’s fur in my Baked Cod.  Keep them at home.

By the way, in Wilton Manors, according to code, a Dog’s Leash may be no longer than 4 feet – no exceptions.   Since the code here is typically “borrowed” from other cities and towns which is standard, I would be willing to bet that is pretty much standard as well.

So how do I judge whether the person on the other end of the leash is balanced?

Look at the dog.  If that dog growls, jumps, barks, shows teeth – the person is at fault.  They put the animal in the place where there is a potential to harm – dog or person.  That Person is therefore at fault if the dog decides to bite.

They are also the first to tell YOU that you don’t have a right to be there.

Um, you’re kidding me, right?

When Wilton Manors allowed dogs in outdoor sections of restaurants, it was done with the proviso that if the dog is acting up, it will be removed and banned from the business.  Any damage that is caused to the premises will be the responsibility of the dog owner.

However, any damage to anyone else, two legged or four, caused by the dog renders the business liable, as well as the owner.  The business itself can be banned from allowing dogs on premises.

There’s a simple solution.  Keep your little fluffy furkid at home.  If you’re calling it your child, or your furkid, or anything else similar, you’re the problem and not the solution.  You are denying your dog’s natural born right – to be a dog.

While I strongly believe pets are family and should be treated with the same rights within reason as you or I, I have a right not to be molested in public by someone who doesn’t understand that it is not appropriate behavior to tie your little white dog to a bar stool and go get a beer.

Keep them at home, they won’t miss you that much.  If you think they do, then keep yourself there too or take them to a dog park.  There are too many unbalanced creatures in society as it is.

Two legged or Four.

Train your pets, love and enjoy them, and keep them from harm.  But please, leave them home.  I’m tired of correcting your dogs.

The Dog and the Hedgehog

If ever I were to open a “Proper” British Pub, I think I would call it “The Dog And The Hedgehog”.

There would be lots of deep dark wood on the walls, yellow brass railings polished bright, and hunter green paint elsewhere.  Bottles of Hard Cider, Dark Ales, and fine Single Malt Whiskey would be on offer.  Maisey, my buxom, brassy, and brilliant barmaid would bring you your Fish and Chips on a platter the size of a hubcap, and she’d greet you with a larger than life presence.

“Cheers, Love!  ‘Ere’s Yer Dinner!  Tuck in!”

Of course, pictures of Elizabeth would grace the walls.

But in this case, it’s simply a story of a new toy.

You see, my dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) has a fixation with his Hedgehog.  It hasn’t been destroyed, completely, yet.  It has had its eyes chewed off in the grisly first few hours of it being given to him, and now is preened within an inch of its life.  He got it in a care package from a good friend of mine up in Atlanta, Craig.  The hedgehog was a bit of Swag from a computer show that he had gotten on a memorable trip to San Francisco.

When I pulled it out of the box, Rack’s eyes got big and it was a match made in heaven.  It was also the first time I saw him assert himself towards a toy.

Rack reared up on his hind legs and grabbed it from the room divider, a full 3 feet off the ground.

A Meter high since we’re talking about a British Pub.

Fish and Chips would be quite nice right about now, come to think about it.

Trotting off to his doggy bed, he settled down to blind the little plush toy in excitement.

Like Lettie before him with her fixation with plush Squirrels, Rack loves his plush hedgehog.

Hedgehogs aren’t really common here.  They aren’t native to Florida or the US, and are quite better off living under hedges in Britain, munching on grubs, and living in their native habitat.

Plush Hedgehogs are welcome though and we set off to look for a new one every time we went off to one of the handful of Thrift Stores here and there.  I always look at the plush animals, and finally we found a second and New To Us Hedgehog.

It made it home and sat out on the bar looking in at the kitchen window because you really do want to wash something like that in “superhot” water to kill anything that may have been hiding in the thing. 

Plush Hedgehog yes, bedbugs no.

Once it came out, Rack had the same reaction.  Mine.   Please, Dad, Mine?  He came over to me, and bore twin holes in my heart with two brown eyes.  I held the older hedgehog in one hand, the new one in the other.  Each time he reached for one, I moved the other out of reach.

Finally he realized what I was saying, One, Not Both, and grabbed the new one. 

Settling down with his prize, he fell asleep next to the big green chair in the corner of the little house on the Island dreaming of new toys, Hedgehog, and Maisey the Barmaid bringing me some proper Fish and Chips with a dark ale on the side.

Ok, maybe not the Fish and Chips, but you get the picture.   Kid with a new toy takes it to bed and sleeps well that night.

Now that he has two, I can actually wash the other one.  You see, these plush toys get a bit stiff after use. 

You really don’t want stiff quills on the outside of a plush hedgehog.  That’s for the real ones made of prickles and flesh and blood living happily under a hedge in a cool climate far away from here and a curious black and white dog.