The Games Dogs Play (1)

Numerizing these, because I’m sure there will be more.

As we know, dogs definitely play games with each other. And, often they invent the rules. Here’s a current, embarrassing (for my dog) game he plays with his small, fluffy gal pal.

Stealing

Necessary supplies: Two yummy, long-lasting chews or stuffed, frozen Kongs.

Object: Tease each other to no end and try to steal each others toys without directly intimidating or harming one another.

Recommended for: No one, especially aggressive, toy/food aggressive dogs. (I don’t even want to imagine.)

Who laughs hysterically every time these two particular dogs play this:  Sadly, me.

Why? Because the rules are:

  • Whatever you have is not as interesting as whatever the other one has.
  • Must not let the other know that you are secretly coveting and calculating how you will attempt to snatch away the item.
  • Bonus Points are awarded for the ability to snatch the other’s item and quickly return to your own and sit on it so that you have one to tease with and one to hide.

Some Strategies:

  • Chew the one item you were given (that you normally couldn’t give a **** about) as though it was what was on your Christmas list, delivered personally by Santa. This is to capture the attention of the other and develop a heightened demand.
  • If you fall for the first strategy and it is obvious that it worked on you, just admit it and go ahead and abandon your own item. Walk straight over and openly stare (from a safe-enough distance) at the one who is currently winning. Stare hard, don’t blink, and will the other one to give it up. Sometimes it works; the other one gets bored of being the champion.

THE single best strategy when you are hideously losing thus far:

  • Stop chewing. Stand up and act as bored as a DMV employee and casually walk to the front door.  Out of the blue, deliver the most shockingly, loud outburst of a bark as possible and begin to scratch at the front door. The poor, unsuspecting victim will suddenly rise and run to the door with you thus allowing you the advantage of knowing that you will dash back to their/HER bed and greedily snatch and openly, furiously, and cruelly chew on the coveted toy to upset your opponent so badly that they can’t think straight enough to understand that the process will work equally as well on the offender.

Note to originator of this amazing strategy, if you use this technique on me one more time in the middle of the night to Punk me out of bed for the purpose of letting you outside to use the restroom, only to turn around and run into the kitchen and paw at your food bowl because you’re having a snack attack (Hint: Your outfit DOES make you look chubby!), then I might decide to start playing that fun game where I pretend to throw balls into the bay for you to chase.  Respect is a two-way road, Man.

 

 

Ranger earns (and gets) an apology.

My dog barks.

Bark.

BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark

Not-so-surprisingly people who are not me are even less thrilled than I when he gets on a roll. In fact, they can get downright steamed up…(MOM).

Well Ladies and Germs,  I am a hear to howl it from my doorstep that e.v.e.r.y  dog indeed gets his DAYAYAYAY!

Let me see if I can recall the parting sweet words of praise that this unsung hero finally got to hear, “That’s a good boy, Ranger.” (Mom, 2011) The apology was not as clear to hear; it was mainly implied…even after many collection attempts on my part. I tend to think it says more about the person who can or cannot give a compliment than it does about the person (or dog) who might deserve it.

So, “check it” (I’m now Randy Jackson)… While staying with my mother the other night, I learned that a new neighbor moved in across the small lane from her. The man  wasn’t even settled in for more than a mere 3 hours when a fire truck, an ambulance, and a police car arrived and carted someone away from his place in the ambulance.  Via eavesdropping through our window (and being fortunate enough that he speaks at a volume like he’s coaching Little League), I learned that the ‘accident’ stemmed from a drunken brawl between this new guy and his ‘friends.’  It was during the drama that I commented to my mother that this 50-something, sunburned, loud boozer seemed dicey (code for ‘likely going to be the source of ongoing annoyance for my mother who craves stone-cold silence’).

That’s when she told me that, in fact, she had met him earlier in the day and that he boldly came over and introduced himself in a way that made her feel very uncomfortable (“HI THERE! I’M YOUR NEW NEIGHBOR! WANT A BEER?”). And, yes, he speaks in all caps.

On a parallel note, it is at approximately 5:30 p.m. when Ranger seems to enjoy a good bark like it’s a Cuban cigar from a private reserve. It’s nerve wrecking to my mother and annoying to me, but it IS predictable.

“Hmm!” I  thought in my head (as opposed to..?) “How about putting Ranger outside on the porch and letting him bark at whatever moves him (the neighbor)?”

And so it was.  “BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark” Every time the man either went in or out of his RV. Even as the man boldly tried to force himself onto other unsuspecting residents (i.e. ‘socialize’), Ranger demanded to be noticed and make himself the center of attention..”WOOF!” I peeked to see if Ranger was getting noticed. Check. At one point, Ranged managed even to stop the man’s loud, drunken bullsh***ng session with someone entirely and take full notice of ‘da dog.

The double-edged beauty of my K9 is that if he isn’t already your friend, he doesn’t go out of his way to solicit new friends. The harder a person tries to sweet talk him (especially if you are not a senior citizen woman), the more wild he barks.  I’ve appreciated this feature when solicitors come to the door (“What??! What? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you…the dog, you know. Bye.”) Ok, so the downside is that if he needed to be rescued, well…hopefully it would be by a senior citizen woman in a wheelchair.

For the first time, Ranger’s bark was a comforting sound to my mother. “Keep it up,” she said. “Let ‘er rip, Ranger!,” I cheered.

“Think you’ll be able to sleep well tonight?” I asked my normally fretting mother.

“I sure don’t think anybody will want to bother us if they think they have to get past Ranger first.”

“What? I can’t hear you. Did you say that Ranger’s bark is valuable??”

“Good boy, Ranger” she acknowledged.

“And what else?” I asked.

“What?”

“An apology for being annoyed with his practice barking–he has to stay in tune like you do with singing,” I pointed out.

“Yah, well…ok.  I’ll just record his voice and play it now and then to make it sound like he’s here.”

“But it’s his size and looks that achieve the total effect.”

Yah, whatever.

So, today (2 days later), I went by to visit Mom with Ranger and his little cowgirl friend, Elsie Mae. Elsie is small, white, and fluffy.

My mother was sitting outside enjoying the sunshine in her wheelchair. ‘Manchild’ was making himself right at home (and the center of attention) in front of my mother’s house drinking and playing a game of juvenile football toss with another like type.  Don’t we all pretty much  know what happens when  a football is informally thrown around people (especially people in wheelchairs who cannot easily get out of the way and are limited in their options as to where they can enjoy the outdoors? It will inevitably hit or scare someone.  Total shocker, right? And, you know how you feel when said person is your own mother.

It happened as I pulled the dogs out of the car. As predictable as Richard Simmons becoming more flamboyant by the year, the football hit my car (located about 3 feet from my mother) and went underneath it (“Heh, heh, WHOA! Heads up, folks! I’ll just come over and get it” yelled the socially deaf one.)

Before I knew it, he was walking toward us. Ranger assumed ‘the position’ and gave him his best performance of ‘This is a PRIVATE party, friend.” I backed him up by adding, “Wait! Stay there.  Let me get him into the car first. He’s not the friendly one.”

<Takes a bow>

I performed a convincing act of loading a barely restrained Ranger back into the car as the guy repeated, “Oh, he isn’t the friendly one.” I kept little Elsie with my mother.

A classic Good Cop; Bad Cop move. It worked. He carefully and quietly retrieved the ball and ended the game.

I whispered to my mother that due to current demand (and lack of prior proper appreciation), Ranger now charges $10/hour for his services. He likes cash. That golden bark and intense stare with a nice, stiff tail and rigid body posture is exquisite when desired.

She had a new appreciation for the formerly accused  “shedding parasite carrier.” I then mused aloud if it was safe for my “Golden Pipes” to be in her home. Surely I wouldn’t want to expose him to any potential parasites or chemicals that could cause him to fall ill. Mwah ahh ahhh. Victory is sweet.

I haven’t even come to the best part.  My mother’s favorite part of the day is reading everybody’s horoscope  (right before forcing us to listen to the obituaries). It’s also the time I tend to roll my eyes a lot and become semi-comatose. For the heck  of it, I asked “What sign is Ranger? What does his say?”

Turns out that he’s a Libra. And, I quote (from the San Diego Union Tribune) on the date of his first Bark-Ranger duty…

“The challenges of the day call for boldness. You bravely speak your mind, support the side you think is right, and facilitate justice. You’ll sleep soundly tonight knowing you’ve put in a solid day’s work.”

Priceless (and a little cosmically unnerving to a non believer).

Foxtails

It’s about that time. Foxtails are blooming. They are currently green in color, but they are starting to dry out to a wheat color. And when they do become dry they become a real danger to your pets.

Ever stuck your finger into the little holes of a Swiffer then you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a one-way kind of deal. Those little teeth allow you to push them inward, but resist letting you get your finger unstuck. Ouch.

That’s exactly what foxtails do. They travel in one direction and they just keep on going.

As a groomer, some of the worst (and most common) cases I have ever seen are when foxtails go into the fur between the pads of a dog’s foot, then travel all the way through the foot to emerge from the other side. As you can imagine, this is very painful. Yet, pets have been brought to me in a matted state and the owners’ were not even aware that there was a problem.

In addition to pain and the possibility of infection, foxtails can also just as easily get lodged into your dog’s ear and or inside of his nose. I’m not sure what could specifically happen if a foxtail is capable of traveling up through soft tissue into your dog’s head, but I’m certain in cannot be good.

When I was young, our dog got one in his ear and we had to have it surgically removed. As I recall, the symptoms were constant head shaking. With a foxtail in the nose, I would imagine that some of the indications would be sneezing and/or rubbing of the nose, and possibly in a worst-case scenario blood coming from the nose.

If you suspect that you dog has a foxtail lodged in his/her nose, do go to your vet to have them ‘scoped.’ Your dog will likely need to be put under anesthesia to have this done.

With my current dog, I had worked on having him hold his head steady in my chin for examinations. Financially, this turned out to be a good use of my time. My dog, Ranger, was acting like he might have gotten a foxtail into his ear. Instead of requiring anesthesia, I was able to have him hold so steady that they were able to scope him very quickly. The cost? A whopping $30.

Stay safe out there!