More Puppies

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Richard and Julianne are getting a new dog in the near future.  It’s a Lab that has been bred and recently gave birth to a litter of three puppies — who are now two weeks old — and the breeder sent us this photo of the pups.

It’s kind of shameless to post pictures of puppies, but I just can’t resist it.  Is there anything cuter than puppies?

Old Dog, New Tricks

Paisley has arrived for her brief stay with the Webners, and immediately she upset the well-oiled rhythms of our household.  For one thing, she follows Kasey around wherever Kasey goes — no surprise there, dogs are pack animals and Kasey’s the leader of the pack — and Kasey clearly finds it unnerving.  At heart, Kasey’s a loner . . . which is why seeking some solitude behind boots and shoes seems like a good idea.  And, of course, when tiny puppies are around you worry about accidents, and chewing, and stains, and curious little pooches getting trapped in inaccessible areas where they can’t get out and you can’t get in.

Who’d have thought that an impossibly cute eight-pound bundle of fur could cause such chaos?

Today the upset will end, as Paisley heads up to her new home in Hamtramck and Kasey gets to get some sleep and slide back into her leisurely lifestyle.  

A New Pup in The Family

Russell and Emily decided to get a pooch to add to their household, which already includes a cat.  We’ve become big fans of rescue dogs — Kasey taught us an important lesson there — so today Kish drove down to Athens to pick up Paisley, a beagle mix.  (Kasey’s taught us a good lesson there, too.)

I’m not sure if Paisley will keep that moniker, but I do know one thing — puppies are cute, no matter what their name.

Zeke Of The Rescue Dogs

I rooted for former OSU running back Ezekiel Elliott as he tore through the Big Ten, I cheered as he gashed Wisconsin and Alabama with long, soul-crushing runs, and I chanted “Zeke, Zeke” as he ran for multiple scores to secure Ohio State’s national championship win against Oregon.

1476732655-ns_17zekespca05spBut now I like him even more.

Elliott, who was the first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys this year, has been tearing it up in the NFL, too.  But the story that really caught my eye was this one, about Elliott making a big donation to help Texans adopt rescue dogs from the SPCA of Texas shelter.  It turns out that Zeke is a big-time dog lover — big enough to contribute $10,000 to the SCPA, propose an event that would encourage families to take a dog that wants a home, and then personally show up to escort the dogs to their adopted families and give them a special treat.

Zeke’s got the right idea.  I wish more people would look at adopting rescue dogs.  My brother-in-law is a dog lover who always gets his dogs from the animal shelter, and he’s right about that.  Our current dog Kasey was a rescue dog, and she’s been a terrific addition to our family.

Rescue dogs don’t deserve to be penned up in a kennel and run the risk of being put down because of space issues.  They deserve a home, and people who adopt them might end up getting a really great dog, as we did.  As Russell points out, many purebred dogs have health problems — that’s often a by-product of the inbreeding — whereas mutts usually don’t.  But the mutts are dogs just the same, and happy to hang with people and share their hearths and homes.

As I said, Zeke’s got the right idea.  If you’re looking for a dog, won’t you look first at the local animal shelter or SPCA facility?

The Grilled Meat Bond

Tonight, Kasey and I are bonding.  She likes meat cooked over a fire, and so do I.

Tonight, we are recreating the early days of the human-canine connection.  It probably started over a fire, eons ago.  I’m grilling a steak and some brats — okay, our ancestors probably didn’t have brats — and’s she’s waiting patiently, looking at me with those big, imploring eyes, hoping for a morsel.

It’s hard to resist those eyes, isn’t it?  Our ancestors probably felt the same way.

Speaking Dogese

Researchers in Hungary have found evidence that dogs do process and, to a certain extent, understand human speech.  Using brain scanning technology, the researchers determined that the right parts of canine brains process words and the left parts process pitch, the same way that human brains work.  And the study confirms what any dog person already knows:  dogs react to the particular combination of speech and pitch.

gingerOne interesting aspect of the study is that is provides some insight into how animal brains react to human speech.  That’s hard to test, because most animals try to avoid humans and have no interest in listening to humans yammer on or trying to understand what we’re talking about.  Our canine friends, on the other hand, have been connected with humans for tens of thousands of years and have evolved to welcome, and provide, companionship for humans.  They basically have to care what the humans in their lives are saying to them, so they pay attention when other animals just ignore our blather.

I have no doubt that Kasey understands some of what we say.  When we speak to her, her ears perk up, her head tilts a bit, and her tail starts wagging if the message is a happy one.  Of course, we don’t try to discuss the fine points of philosophy or quantum theory with her, but her limited vocabulary is quite sufficient to cover the basics of her existence.  I’d guess her working vocabulary consists of about ten words, all typically spoken in the same way with exaggerated tones and grouped into five functional life categories that allow her to live a pretty happy dog life:

  1. Self-awareness:  Kasey
  2. Eating:  food, breakfast, dinner, hungry
  3. Basic discipline and interaction:  Good girl!, Bad girl!, No!
  4. Fun:  Walk
  5. Sleep:  Bed

As I type this, I realize that I have probably never said “yes” to Kasey or, for that matter, any other dog.  Fortunately, they aren’t craving positive reinforcement.  They’re just happy to hang out with us.

Slowing Down

I’m sorry to report that our dog Kasey seems to be slowing down.  That’s OK — it’s what happens to old dogs, and to old people, too.  But it also makes us sad.

We first noticed it because Kasey is now having trouble jumping onto couches and chairs.  In the old days, she could spring onto just about anything from a standing position.  Then, it took a running start, but she made it.  Now, she just puts her front paws on the seat and looks around beseechingly for a friendly face who might give her a lift up to one of her accustomed spots.

IMG_2601There are other signs as well.  She limps from time to time, and she doesn’t seem to like long walks quite as much, and she doesn’t strain at the leash like she used to.  Her head is turning white.  Her eating habits have become more erratic.  She’s more content to sit in the backyard in a cool, quiet spot.  And she’s had a few of those unfortunate “accidents” around the house.

When you notice these kinds of things, the antenna go up and you begin looking for more indications of health problems.  So far, though, we haven’t had to deal with any of those — aside from Kasey’s awful teeth, which seem to be more a product of bad care when she was little than advancing age.

We don’t know how old Kasey is, because she was a fully grown rescue dog when we first met her at the Erie County Humane Society.  We guess that she’s 14 or so, but she’s a smaller dog, and they are supposed to live longer.  We’re hoping that’s true.

In the meantime, Kish is watching Kasey like a hawk, keeping an eye out for gimpiness or apparent bowel problems, so we can get ol’ Kase to the vet at the first sign of trouble.  Kish’s careful observation of Kasey for signs of aging is a bit unnerving, though.  Now that I’ve passed 59, I’m squarely in the zone of scrutiny, too.