Morning Tummy Rubs Are The Best

Anyone who has the pleasure of having a McNab Dog in their life knows the position.

On their backs, spine curled, one or more legs in the air, exposing their belly for all to see.

Have you no shame, Sir?

Nah.  Why?  It’s tummy rub time.

Actually in this case, it’s an every morning thing.  Even before I get out of bed, I am leaning over and rubbing a tummy.  The lights then get turned on, and the abbreviated morning routine happens.  Coming back into the bedroom, if he gets up, as soon as the door to the bathroom opens, he’s back down on the floor preparing to roll back up into his bendy self.

It is a comically common position with Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).

He does it anywhere he thinks he’ll get attention.  He has also fallen asleep under my hand while I was rubbing that tummy so I must be doing it right.

If he isn’t sleeping on his back, he’s bent into a dogball with his head on his tail.  It isn’t that he does that to keep warm, I live in Florida.

South Florida.

You know, below the Freeze Line?  Boca Raton gets temperatures down to 32.  The coldest it has been since I moved here was 34.  That’s 1C for those Metricated people out there.

He will do that in winter, summer, no matter when.  If he gets too warm being curled up in his bed, he’s going to come out and sprawl out on the Terrazzo floor and curl up there.

Bendy Dogs will do that.

Comically so.  In fact, those of us who follow the breed have decided that our bendy dog is normal, it’s a trait, even if he’s being visited by a parrot who may want to try to take over his crate.

Oh sure, they can flatten out like any other dog.  If they act like they are made out of latex, rubber bands, springs,  bits of string and other things that stretch and bend, they will sprawl out on the floor.  In fact I do believe that they will deflate partially, lowering their internal air pressure by half like I did when I used to take my Jeep off road in the New Jersey Pine Barrens near Chatsworth.

So I have an off road dog.   Wouldn’t be the first.  Lettie did it as well.  When she got older, she stopped bending so much and would be solar powered, letting her mostly black fur soak up as much sun as possible, recharging her for later.

But she used to sleep in a ball just like Rack does.  Like I said, it’s a breed trait, and an amusing one at that.

I guess it is one of those things to watch for.  As time goes by, Rack will choose to recharge in the sun, flatten out and stop his bendy ways but I bet he’ll always roll up for a tummy rub when it’s available.

And even when it is not.

How Do You Know Whether To Syringe Feed Your Dog Or Stop

Of all the things I wrote on this blog, the one that really grabs hold of me and forces me to think, critically, it was the time I wrote about Syringe Feeding my dog Lettie near the end of her life.

I made decisions, some were right, some were “right for me”.

It has been four years since, and I’m right around the anniversary that day that we let her go.  In fact, one day past.  April 11, 2013.

Yesterday, coincidentally, I got a comment on that posting from Holly.

My 16 yr old , rat terrier , Aggie, was diagnosed with renal issues by the ER vet on Sunday. She wanted me to put her down and when I didn’t agree, she sent me home with medication for her nausea and iron supplements. I will say they did give her subcutaneous IV fluids. I was provided a leaflet and told not to feed her protein….try oatmeal. I took her to my vet today and we have a plan. She is end stage, but at least he is trying to see if we can get her numbers down. I am feeding her via syringe with Hills A/D. He has started her on a phosphorous binder, antibiotic and more fluids. Thank you for your article. It’s calming to listen to others who understand the love we share for these creatures who only love us unconditionally.

Remember, I am not a Vet.  I’m just some blogger sitting in a chair in South Florida writing about my own experiences…

However.

I will say that everything that the vet told Holly was true to what I was told.  Low Protein, Low everything.  I had to wonder what on earth Lettie was getting in the prescription food.

This is basically what happened before mankind discovered Dialysis.  You flush the body with IV fluids, mostly water, to get the things out of the body that the body considers waste.  Dialysis machines are frighteningly expensive, and here in the US in this day and age, it’s well known how obscenely expensive health care is, let alone sending your dog or cat through this treatment.

Then you get a reprieve.

We went through three cycles.  You will know when it is time to stop.  Lettie told me.

Lettie was a McNab and Border Collie cross.   She had The Eye of a BC, but the webbed and cat like feet of a McNab.  She also knew how to get her point across.  Through the feedings she never bit.  I tried all sorts of foods to try to keep her energy up.  Finally one Friday morning, I knew.

Lettie stopped eating, looking at me, she stepped away from the syringe.

A Herding Dog can understand a lot more of your language, body and verbal, than you would realize.  I asked her if she wanted more.

A dog looking away but not walking away spoke volumes.  It was her saying “I’ve had it, I will do it if you want, but I don’t think it is for the best.”

That was the day that I made arrangements.

I had bought her fully almost a year.  The last month was for me to get ready.  It was time, I knew it too.

So that’s the thing.  You have to really KNOW your pet.  They do love you unconditionally, even if you’re not doing right by them.

It will test you and your resolve.  They may be a bad candidate for this treatment.  Dogs or cats may scratch or snap or just otherwise back away.

Some people are wrong for this – their view is that “the dog is just a pet”.  I will hold back comment on that mind set.

It is a lot of prep work to feed your pet this way.  Not for everyone.  It was for me.

In the end, you will make your own decision, and it will be right.  No judgement.  Especially if you try and don’t manage to get the feedings to work.

Lettie understood all this.  She taught me when it was time, and she told me when she was done.

By going through the treatment, you are buying time.  You are purifying the blood of a dog under Renal Failure.  You are partially resetting the clock, but you can’t completely replace what is lost.  All this will weaken them, but it will buy time.

Bottom line, yes, I absolutely would do this again.

Two weeks after I lost Lettie, I was told by someone who is very close to me this:

“Bill, it hurts too much, give another dog a chance, Lettie would want that.”

I did.  Rack is here at my right elbow while I am writing.  He is his own challenge with all his fear issues, but at four years on, we’re learning.

So I have a feeling I have around 10 to 12 years more with him learning me.  Why not, Lettie did.   She was a dog of a lifetime. She knew what I was up to at any given moment.

 

Rack? Yes, he knows that I don’t give him an ice cube until the second time I make coffee so don’t beg until then.

Good luck with your feedings.  Buy the time.  It is worth it.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have to give a very good dog a cookie.

McNab Dogs Are Just Too Polite

I don’t really have a dog.  I have a shadow.

Rack is my rescue.  Actually his full name is Rack The McNab SuperDog (TM).  He told me to put that TM there.  I’m on the fence about that.

Thing is that I’ll be in a room doing my thing and I notice he’s watching.  The bedroom door is across from the bathroom.  His mat sits there so he can watch both.

I’ll get up off my chair doing whatever it is that I do in the course of the day and wander into either room.  Do my thing, and turn around and there’s a mostly black with white accents dog looking back under all seeing brown eyes.

Watching.

If I happen to go into that bathroom in this little house and close the door, and I do close the door if there are other humans here as a polite man is wont to do, Rack will make his presence known.

He’s worried that I may Fall In.  I hear paws on the tiles. Walking.  Pacing.  Back and forth.  Too long sequestered, I have heard some gentle little whining at the door.

Watching.

This particular day was a very active one.  My normal routine was a bit upset.  You see my elbow got hurt.  If you have a foam mattress you may find yourself in the same position.  In my case, I was in a bowl.  Sleeping on that foam mattress, I found myself sinking down into it slowly until when I wake.  My elbow was hyper-extended by sinking so I will try to re-position.  Back to sleep.  Elbow wakes me up in pain again.  It got to the point where my elbows were both in pain all day.

I went to get a new mattress.  It was not an option, but a requirement.

I put this new one on the bed and flattened it out.

Mind you I am a very creative person.  I realized that inside the old mattress was one inch of memory foam and another five or so inches of upholstery foam.  I started carving it into shapes for future pillows and so forth filling the master bedroom with oblongs and rectangular shapes, odd specks of foam hitting the floor and bouncing over the distance to land near Rack’s nose.

Yes, he came in and was busy watching me make a mess of things.

I realized it.  He was doing his job.

He also has a bed.  That bed needs to be replaced a good six or seven times over.  Sure, he has mats that I can toss in the washer on Hot Wash Day to kill whatever is inside, but he prefers this slightly bowl shaped contraption that is a hand-me-down from a long since moved away neighbor who insisted that Rack would like it.

I got the bright idea to take some of the smaller scraps and filled the dog bed with it.  Eventually he will learn to like it as he melts over the side in a position that only a Bendy McNab Dog would enjoy.  Never complaining, melting over the side like a Salvador Dali painting of an impossible clock, he would find a new position.

All the while I was breaking the one cardinal rule of having a herding dog.  I was changing routine.  Listening to a radio station called 4TO in Townsville, Australia for their coverage of Cyclone Debbie, they sounded the hour.  I looked at the clock here and realized that it was already Noon.

Lunch would be late.  I had to make a pot of rice and warm the curry.

Putting the rice cooker back on, I looked around and realized that he had moved into the kitchen and was watching for some food.

“Sorry Rack, chicken makes you sick and this curry has onion in it.”

I got a disappointed look and he circled around to lay down, Sphinx-like from the little hallway.

 

Once the rice was on, I asked “What is it, Rack?  Show me!  Show me what you want!”

Nose in the air, I responded “Sorry, boy not for dogs.  How about something else.  Come here!”

Gently, he padded across the tiles on his cat like feet and wagged his tail at me.  I bent down to his ear and whispered the magic word:  “Yogurt.”

Got a solid wag there.  Never a bark, those are reserved for the intruders like UPS Guys and those rather insistent Duck that roam the yard.  I started to pour out the yogurt, he was going to get a treat…

OOPS!  A solid pint of home made plain yogurt?  This should be interesting.

I set him back on his way.  He downed the yogurt as I went back to stuffing his bed.

The rice cooker, later, snapped to the finished position.  I put the curried chicken on top and sat down at the little rolling table.  Rack was well tall enough to be able to bend down to eat right off that plate, but no, he got a conversation instead.

“Rack, you know this is chicken and onion!  Curry is too spicy for you.  Not for dogs, I’m sorry”.

I got the most plaintive look back from him.

“Rack it will turn you into a soft serve dispenser.  Let’s not have any of this here.”

Sad expectant look walked away slowly.  I was able to finish the plate of Chicken and Chick Peas, Onions, Sauce, Peanuts and Rice without an issue.

Watching.

Of course he was.  That’s his job.  Me.

If anyone tells you that you can’t have a McNab dog in the city, just tell them that they simply need a job.  You can be their job.  Best job a dog ever had.

Oh!  And as for the beds?  Both are fine.  My new one helped my elbows out greatly, it’s amazing what a good mattress will do for your back too!  Rack is still on the fence about it, but I took a giant cartoonish kitchen knife and cut the foam inserts I made down to one half thickness.  He’s on the bed now.

Winter in Florida and The Dogs Are Prepared

It was scheduled last week on Friday.

I hear we may be getting more this week.

By “Winter” I mean temperatures in the 50s.

That would be a low of between 10 and 15C for my international readers.

If you live in South Florida, have a pool, have social and intelligent dogs that follow you around every day, watch your Iced Tea.

This was an older picture.  That’s Lettie who passed a couple years back.  I was going through my pictures and she popped out at me.  It’s pretty much what I go through though.

You see that small area is a spa, or hot tub, and we rarely use it.  The heater takes hours to get it to a nice comfy 104F/40C and we settle for 95F/35C.  That last 5C is a killer.

I’ve sat in that spa at oddball times of the day and night.  Days are better since you can see the mosquitoes to swat at them.  Night is more comfortable since the air is cooler, and that is of course quite relative.

Lately thought it is just something for my dog, Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) to leap over when he’s

excitedly running circles around the yard and the pool and out to the portal in the front gate to see who is there.

Portals help.  It entertains the dog.  Entertained dogs are good dogs.  Herding dogs need to be mentally stimulated just like they need to be able to run off some of that energy from time to time.

Lettie used to have a portal that I created in the Laundry Room door.  It was completely frosted glass panes and Jalousie windows, since replaced.  I removed two of the slats at the bottom and replaced them with clear panes so she could go out there and watch the world.

Trust me she did.

She’s gone, the door was replaced with fully frosted impact glass, and Rack has the front door to look out of anyway.

Things certainly change in five years.  The weather is about to change.  And for now, Rack’s happy to watch out the front door.   He watches for his favorite people, and whines quietly as they walk past.  He also gets all bent out of shape when any sort of delivery comes through.  I think that is a requirement of Dog.  When Dog is selected and the soul inhabits the creature, there is a little subroutine written.  Delivery Truck requires Alert.  Luckily, Herding Dogs are easy to train and a simple “Go Look!” works.

No, nobody is out there, is there?

But that would be a story for a different day wouldn’t it?

Rack Convinces Me To Play – Video

Every so often I get the urge to shoot video.

This blog is very Photography Heavy, but it all comes from the same camera.  The trusty Samsung Galaxy S4.

I do video so infrequently that I had to find all the bits and pieces that I used last time to generate the files.  Luckily Linux simply updated everything for me and it Just Worked Just Like The Last Time.

Anyway, enough boring stuff huh?

Lately I’d go out back to do the Morning Inspection.  Happens right around 7:30AM.  I’m due for the second mug of coffee, Rack is due to water a Palm Tree or three.  Once that is done, I get herded.  He wants to play.

Before it was him going around the yard at lightning fast speed.  Now, he’s more interactive and more assertive.   For a dog who was completely “shut down” when I got him, I’ll put up with the assertions.

Oh, and he’s finding his voice, Finally.  After three and a half years.  Give or take a bit.

 

You will see what I mean.  Safe for all viewers.  Goofy for them too.

Now, if you want to see it, it’s in full HD on Youtube, and here is the direct link.

Teaching Rack How To Dog

I found myself standing in the backyard.  I wasn’t alone.  I think, strictly speaking, I am never alone in the yard.  There are always wild critters back there.  Lizards, snakes, iguanas, and more.

No, I had my own critter with me.  Rack.  The McNab SuperDog(TM) was staring at me.  I wasn’t the font of all knowledge, but he seems to think so.

I went back to puttering.  After a glancing blow from Hurricane Matthew, I stood the lawn chair upright, and found that I had some weeds to pull.  There are always weeds to pull in a temperate or tropical yard and garden.  You can always find something that doesn’t belong.

Freeport Bahamas got slammed by that storm, we didn’t really have anything that a line of Thunderstorms would have caused.

I reached down to pull some philodendron vine that had decided it wanted to live in the turf that passes for grass here and bent back upright.

He was still staring.

I said “What?” as I walked toward the grey bin to drop the fist full of vines and other unwelcome guests.

Rack trotted away, bouncing at each step.

Me being the clumsy type, I bumped into the trash can.

At that point, Rack shot into hyperspace.  I felt the breeze waft past as he ran past me at something over the speed of light, Einstein not withstanding, and heard the pop as he passed behind the shed.  Rack had disappeared into the alternate universe and paid a visit to his other family in the dog universe.

Simultaneously I heard another pop behind me as he re-materialized and dropped back into normal space.

Hard to believe that this was the same fearful dog that I had adopted around three years ago.  Having spent his first six months with some moron who thought hunting was the right thing to do with his free time, and that a herding dog would be the right thing to have with it, and the next month and a half in a veterinarian office getting more fearful by the day, I had a dog who has something that would best be described as having PTSD.

Not to mock anyone who has PTSD, but a fearful dog like Rack will drop to his belly if you drop a spoon into a cup of coffee, and I have seen him flatten out in the middle of a four lane highway when he heard a large semi-truck a quarter of a mile away blow out his brakes.

Hunting Dog, Indeed.  Go do something constructive with your time, moron.

Rack dropped to a prance across the pool and looked back and smiled.

I have to teach him How to Dog.

I have always had fearful dogs.  By the time Lettie passed away, she was literally bulletproof.  I could take her anywhere and she would simply deal with it.  The first walk I took her to Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia well after dark, she slammed herself against a wall in fear, shivering, when the Route 23 bus came down The Hill from the Chestnut Hill Station.

Fearful dogs, I get.  I know what they’re going through.  They just take longer to come out of their shells.

Not everyone wants a goofy puppy who bounds around and acts like they are into everything that you are into.  That’s a lot of work in a very short period of time, and most people are not up to task.

Goofy Puppies are great, you can mold them, and sometimes you even get it right.  More often than not, you don’t get it right.  Then you have a horrible yappy Havanese, Maltese, or Yorkshire Terrier who barks at anything and everything, fiercely, and tries to kill it.  “It” could be a bird on a tree limb across the yard, or the 5:15PM flight into the local airport coming in from overseas.  It could also be me or one of mine, out for my evening walk, and your dog went insane.
Why?  Simple, you forgot to let it be a Dog.  You tried to Humanize the creature and you ended up with a mental case.  You forgot to guide your dog and teach it acceptable behavior in what to it is an alien environment.

I jumped looking at Rack’s smile.  He went back into Hyperspace and re-materialized with me under the Mango Tree.   I had the most Florida of experiences.  I was rubbing my dog’s belly while he was wiggling around, under a mango tree, next to the coleus, adjacent to the pool, next to the sea grape tree.

I stood up, and bounced on the balls of my feet.   Rack set himself upright, bounced into the air.

McNab Dogs can jump.  He’s out of practice, but he can jump five feet off the ground and put his paws on my chest.

 

Oh well, I’ll have foot prints on my chest until I can change, no big deal.

He did a tight figure eight around the mango, then the palm, added a loop behind the bougainvillea, and came back with a leap and …

A Woof.

Ok, this is new.  He actually barked.   Once.  Fearful PTSD Dogs don’t do that.  They may whine or cry.  They will hide, cower, shiver.  But bark?  In Joy?

Holy crap this is good!

You see, at a little past four years old, my terrified, scared PTSD McNab Dog learned that it can be alright to bark in joy!

I looked at him, upside down begging for more tummy rubs and said “Woooof?”.

He flipped back onto his feet, did another figure eight plus a half loop for good measure where he bounced off the back wall of the house, rebounded, and said “WOOF!”.
I thought that 7:45 in the morning may be a little early for WOOF! but we’ll see.  It is past the 10PM to 7AM quiet time.  Nobody was in Vern or Joe’s yards, I thought I’d hear about it later if there was a problem.  Rack needed this!

I jumped into the air and played keep away weaving through the pots near the pool, next to the banana tree, stopped and bounced.

Rack ran back around and lept into the air, coming down and “WOOF!”.

“Woof?”

“WOOF!” Rack replied.

I responded with some more windsprints back and forth and running with Rack.  I remember that I used to run 10Km around Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania and there was this one 45 degree hill there that I would power up on my runs…

One more lap around the mango tree and Rack ran over to the spa.  When I saw him drink from the water there, I knew it was time to wind him down.  He was still excited but it was time to go in.  He needed the cleaner water from the bowl in there.

But that’s the key.  Knowing what to do.  No matter the breed, no matter the size, from Rudy the Chihuahua down the block to that Great Dane that is more horse than dog, you can have a balanced dog of a lifetime.

I’m believing that it is more about taking things at the dogs pace and being a guide instead of a leader.  Making sure that what you do with the dog is not too much but just right.  You need to uplift your fearful dog rather than calm down an aggressive dog.

After all, if the dog gets to be a hair trigger barky dog, it’s up to you to teach it to calm down.
It may be a bit too much to expect these days.  The “Rational Man” that society used to depend on to get things done has been taken advantage and worn down and replaced by the “Entitled Man”.  The Me First of the 1980s mindset ended up with day care for kids and for dogs and society is where it is today as a result.

But if you take things steadily and rationally, you may actually find that the returns are still there.

You may actually get a WOOF! of joy instead of a mental case pacing from front door to back barking at the jets in a holding pattern getting ready to land at the big city airport down the road a piece.

Rack the McNab Superdog (TM) Discovers the Cat Door

The hardest part of having a smart dog in your life is keeping their mind occupied.

We have all heard the stories of someone who has a Border Collie that goes everywhere with them.  The dog is perfect, goes where you tell them, knows when to back away from an encounter, and does all sorts of tricks that will blow your mind.

You probably have heard about someone hearing that story and thought “I want that”, and proceeds to make their lives miserable because they really don’t want to put the time into the dog that they deserve.

They – because it really is a partnership.

Now, I don’t have a Border Collie.  BC’s are great dogs, but they’re a bit “twitchy”.  Always on, a BC doesn’t know how to relax.

I have a McNab Dog.  They do know how to relax.  That is probably why the breed works so well with me.  I give my boy Rack, just like I did my departed Lettie before him, jobs.  He knows that there will always be praise or sometimes a treat after a well done job, but the whole “Lets Make The Human Do Things” doesn’t work well with me.

I’ve described him as my Business Analyst to my own Project Manager.   Go find the problem and report back and I’ll tell you what to do.

So running around the yard one day, he found a problem.  Someone was in the driveway.

We were in the back yard, and he was getting all excited.  Did another circuit of the pool, ran up to me and sat down.

“What is it Rack, show me!”

He stood up and ran to the gate to the front yard.   We have six foot fencing around the property to stop people from turning the pool into their own private spa.

It was a breezy day that day. Winds coming in from the ocean were making the palm trees sway.  They were feeling good on the skin, and would tousle your hair with a soft caress that you just don’t get in a cold climate.

 

At this time, Rack was startled by something.  I watched from the entry to the pool equipment, a good 15 feet, 5 meters behind.  It is a narrow corridor between the house and the property fence.  The air gets funneled between the area and that day blew out the plank that serves as a cat door.

He backed up.
“What’s the matter, Boy?  Go look!”

He looked back at me as if to say, “you’re kidding me, boss”.

“Go on!  Look!”

The wind was blowing the cat door out toward the yard.  He stuck his nose through it.  That was enough.  He discovered a portal to the outside world.

He also discovered that one of his very favorite people, Kevin, was standing in the driveway chattering away on the phone.

That just would not do.  Rack pulled back.  Looked back at me as if to say “Hey, Boss, can you let me out?”

Nope.  You need your boundaries just like the best trained McNab Dog out there.  That’s your task, watch but do not get involved.

He went back to looking through the cat door and wagging his tail.  He also had a new toy.

We all have a routine.  If someone pulls into the driveway, we hear it from the back yard.  I can also see what is in the driveway through the bougainvillea in the back and out the front windows.  I know just where to stand and can get Rack his exercise when he runs around the pool, behind the shed, and out the wormhole to the alternate dimension where his alternadog family lives on the other world.

He still visits them from time to time, using time and space dilation to jump the light years across the multiverse where he is the Emperor of the McNab Universe.

But here, he is content to run back around the shed, and down the corridor to the cat door where he can watch you and I and the rest of the world.

It is indeed a good time to be a dog.