Saturday, January 19, 2008

Big Dog, Tiny Bed

For the first time in either of our dogs' lives, we have a hardwood floor. We have not yet invested in an area rug, so the dogs have been sleeping on the entryway rug, upstairs or on the cool floor. This was fine in warmer months, but now that it's a tad frosty outside, the floor just doesn't seem as comfortable as it used to be.

We took our fleece dog blanket (usually used when traveling) and folded it into a bed for Baxter and we bought another fleece crate pad/bed for Kirby, both of which we put down on the living room floor. This made for some happy evening dog-snoozing and provided a place for them to more quietly chew and drop their toys.

For a while, Baxter and Kirby were keeping to their own beds, and occasionally Kirby would come over to Baxter's and curl up next to him. The other evening, Kirby claimed the big bed first and surrounded himself with all of his toys. Baxter, rather than kicking Kirby out or laying down next to him, went over to Kirby's tiny little bed, turned around three times in progressively smaller circles and curled up so tightly that even his noze and stub of a tail were entirely on the bed. (This picture doesn't even capture how tightly wound Baxter one point his nose was resting on his back legs mere inches from his tail.)

Apparently Baxter decided he liked this rather tight sleeping arrangement, because the next night, unprovoked by Kirby's encroachment on his bed territory, Baxter looked at both beds and decided to sleep on the little one. I thought maybe it was a matter of location, so I switched the location of the big bed and the little bed. Baxter again chose the little bed.

Now, I can't figure out why he would do this, when it requires a tremendous effort for him not to hang over the edges on every side. Perhaps the newer, little bed is softer (although it seems about the same to me). Or perhaps it's just Baxter's way of telling Kirby "I can sleep wherever I darned well please"...?

In any case, it's a pretty funny sight to see...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Speaking Faux-English

Both Baxter and Kirby have, on occasion, tried to talk to us. Baxter's attempts at speech usually take place when two or more people are standing and talking. For some reason, this drives him crazy. He likes it better when we're sitting in chairs talking. Perhaps that's because we're closer to his level. Or perhaps he associates standing and talking with the logistics of leaving and wants to make sure he's included in the conversation. In any case, when my husband and I do engage in an on-the-fly, standing conversation, Baxter inevitably comes and stands next to us. If we don't acknowledge him, he starts yowling. This is not a bark and it's not a bay. It involves pursing his lips into a near-circle and sounds something like:

"Row woo woo oooo!"

At first it was cute. We were impressed. But he's still at it eight years later. Still, I have to admit that while it is disruptive, we can't help but laugh when he does it.

I don't know if Kirby picked it up from Baxter or if he's just improvising on his own, but he's been honing his faux-English skills as well. Kirby's attempts at speech usually take place when he wants something from us and we're not paying attention to his poinking (that's when he takes his little nose and pokes you with it, amazingly hard) or his pawing of our legs. He looks earnestly into my eyes and starts articulating sounds that are spookily close to sounding like actual words.

The other night he hit a new, more complex level of articulation. As we sat on the couch watching a movie, he came up to me and put his paws on my leg (he ALWAYS has to go outside about 20 minutes into a matter what). I ignored him. He tried again. Finally, out of frustration, he sat down on his bum and said something like:

"Ow ow ow wingy row rewerrr, ra ngow wow wow." His face was serious. His lower lip protruded, showing his little bottom teeth. His eyes were sharply focused and unwavering.

My husband and I looked at each other in amazement. That was the longest dog sentence either of us had ever heard. It surpassed Baxter's yowling. It rivaled the dogs you see singing on television, but no howling or yowling was involved. It was low, measured and matter-of-fact. It had a rhythm and tone that rose and fell like words in a human sentence. It really seemed like he was attempting to articulate something.

Ok, ok, for all of you scientists out there, I'm not claiming that Kirby was speaking human language (and my transcription may not be entirely accurate). But I do think he may have been trying to mimic sounds that get our attention as we humans talk to each other. He certainly succeeded. He got his trip outside. I'm now certain he will do it again and again and again.

Now he's taking it to non-humans. Yesterday I heard Kirby in the laundry room making low, growly word-like sounds. He was talking to the hamper. "What the..?" I wondered to myself. About the same time I went in to investigate, so did my husband. Kirby was sitting there looking up at a bag on the top of the hamper...a bag that held a stuffed moose that was in need of repair.

Perhaps he thought if the sweet talking worked on us, he might be able to convince the moose to come out of the bag. We may never know. But I'm looking forward to the next thing he says (and to Baxter expanding his repertoire as well).

Dogs don't make excuses (but I do)

Wow. I opened up my home page today and realized it has been two weeks since I wrote in my blog. Why? Not sure. At first I told myself I was just lacking in subject matter (which is pretty lame because the dogs provide lots of daily opportunities for storytelling). Or I'm just swamped with work. That's certainly true (and it's a good thing mostly). But I've been extremely busy at other times and still made time to write in my blog.

No, I think this time I'm lacking in some internal inspiration that makes me put the words on the screen. Some of it is stress. I'm never very inspired when I'm overwhelmed. And some of it, I think, is worry... Whenever I start thinking about "dog updates," I find myself wanting to say something about Kirby's condition. And the fact is, I don't have any more to say about it. We're waiting. He's done his two months of Interceptor with no complications. So that's good news. He's gained a pound from his imposed low-exercise lifestyle (I, however, am getting stronger from carrying him up and down the stairs). And the @#$% heartworm(s) that the tests say are inside him are just in there doing whatever heartworms do until we administer the heavy meds some time next month.

I think I'm just not good at waiting for such things. On the one hand, I never want that day to come when we give Kirby the Immiticide (kills the adult heartworms). He seems so normal, so healthy and happy and playful now. And I know that will be hard on him and, potentially, harmful to him as well as the heartworms. On the other hand, I want the whole thing to be over with and Kirby to be fine so we can get back to things like trips to the dog park and games of chase up and down the stairs.

Kirby has grown into such a sweet little dog. He's trustworthy (never bothers our things when we're away, never chews anything but his toys). And he has a wonderful, cheerful disposition. His tail wags almost constantly. He and Baxter have even started curling up together in the evenings. I never thought I'd see the day (Kirby has always tried, but Bax usually gets up and walks away). I think Baxter has accepted Kirby and, dare I say, grown fond of him.

So, anyway, if I were to write about what I'm thinking and feeling with regard to our scruffy dogs, this is pretty much the stuff that's running through my mind every day. And such repetition makes for a very boring blog.

In the coming weeks I'll try not to worry so much. I'll seek inspiration from positive thinking and try to be a little more regular about my writing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Anticipating Routine

While I'm sitting here feeling that I'm not quite ready for the holiday break to be over, I bet the dogs are looking forward to once again living a more routine lifestyle. Nothing has been routine since the weekend before Christmas -- first travel, then having a houseguest (my husband's brother, very popular with the dogs) since last Friday evening. It's been a whirlwind of unusual activity, shifted sleeping hours and nobody sitting at their desks working. It's been fun. And the dogs seem to have enjoyed the road trips and all the extra play time with family members, but when my brother-in-law sat down at my computer to write an email this morning, Baxter and Kirby quickly assumed their "work" positions under my desk. They seemed so content to see a glimpse of routine, even if only for a few minutes.

And routine they soon will have. As my mom is fond of saying, "the party's over." We dropped my brother-in-law off at the Amtrak station this evening and came back to an all-too-quiet house. My husband and I retreated to our computers and the dogs immediately assumed their usual places. I'm sitting here staring at the pile of work on my desk, my "to do" list for first thing tomorrow morning. A couple of weeks ago "I'll get to that after the first of the year" was such a sweet idea...a blissful and understandable act of holiday procrastination. Time's up.

While I'd love to have another week of hanging around with family and friends, eating rich food and avoiding work, there's a small part of me that, like the dogs, will be happy to return to some semblance of routine. (As freelancers who work from home, our idea of "routine" is still pretty flexible compared to our past professional lives as commuters and office cubicle dwellers.) And I must admit, I do look forward to the work that lies ahead.

I have some great clients and interesting projects to work on. And knowing I'll be sitting at my desk tomorrow morning with a hot cup of coffee in my hand and Kirby and Baxter at my feet makes the anticipation of jumping back into the world of work a much sweeter prospect.