Friday, February 20, 2009

Stick-stealing Beach Boys at the Oregon Coast

We recently had a wonderful day with Baxter and Kirby at the Oregon Coast. The boys ran constantly for hours and my arm is still tired from throwing sticks.

Despite a total lack of training, Kirby is a much better retriever of sticks than Baxter is. While Bax will retrieve from the water (all day if your arm can take it), he doesn't like to retrieve on land...he much prefers running off with the stick to chew on it. Kirby, who doesn't much like the water, seems to truly enjoy fetching sticks on terra firma. Of course, with the two of them, it's always a competition. But Kirby and I got in a few rounds while Baxter was off sniffing something.

It's hard to feel too bad for Kirby when Baxter comes and steals the stick from him...because Kirby is notorious for stealing Baxter's toys right out from under his nose. Kirby will sidle up stealthily, wait until Baxter stops to look at something or lick his paw, and then dart in and snatch the toy and run under the sofa so Baxter can't get to it.

In fact, just yesterday Kirby tried a new tactic... Baxter was proudly prancing around with one of the toys. From under the sofa, Kirby barked suddenly. Baxter was startled and dropped the toy so he could bark too. Kirby darted out, stole the toy and ran back under the sofa. Crafty guy!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Clean and Mean

The boys got their baths today. As always, it was fairly traumatic for Baxter. Despite nearly a decade of regular bathing, Baxter has never gotten used to the idea. At the mere mention of the word "bath" he runs for his bed and trembles.

So today we started off with a nice, long walk in the sunshine -- just Baxter and me. I let him take me where he wanted to go. He took me through the park, down a path through the woods, across an office park and straight to the big pond in front of the Oregon Graduate Institute engineering school, where he ogled the ducks and seized a brief opportunity to roll in some goose poo. He was sooooo happy. I was sooooo glad we were about to have a bath...

I realized I haven't combed Baxter nearly enough lately... he has a tendency to develop dreadlocks under his chin and around his hind quarters and while they're easily disguised by the rest of the scruffy hair, a quick comb-through makes them quite obvious. At one point my husband and I both had to hold Baxter to get him to the point where a couple of delicately placed mats could be removed. We definitely need to be better about staying ahead of that.

Next the bath. Once again, the brave dog who fords mountain streams and swims in snowmelt with nary a shivver, became a trembling ninny once he caught sight of the nice, warm, steamy shower stall. My husband usually does the honors these days. And once the shower door closes behind them, Baxter knows the alpha WILL get the job done no matter how pathetic the trembling becomes. As usual, Baxter emerged with glee and reveled in the opportunity for a blow-dry (yes, he actually likes the blow dryer...I can't imagine hating a warm shower and liking a blow dryer, but I digress...)

Kirby, being the contrary sibling, acts as if he enjoys every minute of the process. I took out the comb and he came running, actually inserting himself between Baxter and me so he would have to be combed first. (Baxter loved that one and seized the opportunity to take off.) There were a couple of mats he really didn't like having removed, but he otherwise was very cooperative...almost as if he wanted to show Baxter up. He whined the entire time Baxter was in the shower, eager to have his turn. When Baxter trotted out, Kirby practically jumped into the shower stall. An opportunity for uninteruppted warm, sudsy time with the Alpha was actually a positive event for him. But we don't even consider the blow dryer. Loud noises aren't Kirby's thing.

Now they're dry and smelling sweet and fealing feisty. For the past hour they've been fighting over the remains of the antler from Christmas. When Baxter wins control, Kirby orbits him, biting on his ears, taking an occasional jab at his hip or neck. Eventually Baxter responds by snarling, snapping or simply giving up. Kirby now has control of the antler. I guess the old guy just got tired. Kirby is relentless.

Soon they'll get into their freshly laundered beds and, I'm sure, within a couple of days they'll stop smelling like fresh dog shampoo. But in the meantime they'll both get a few extra snuggles. I can't resist a freshly bathed dog....