Sunday, March 13, 2011

Katie: My First Scruffy Dog

Katie - 1979
We've been busy going through old boxes...finding things we haven't seen since the past move (or two). Today I ran across this photo of my first dog, Katie.  Katie had all the spark, spunk and sweetness one would expect from a Cairn Terrier.  She was a fierce protector of our home and had a growl that sounded more like a doberman than a 15-pound terrier. Yet she had the patience to put up with me dressing her up in costumes, complete with hats and sunglasses, and stood still while I took pictures (those must be in an album somewhere...)  Katie could "smile" on cue and she had a large repertoire of other tricks which she only performed when she darn well felt like it and/or when you had food to offer. Come to think of it, I never did get her to smile while also being dressed up...

Katie was a natural-born hunter, catching rodents in our yard and dropping them by the back door like a cat. She didn't much care for small dogs, but she was absolutely smitten with the neighbor's gigantic Alaskan Malamute. 

Katie ruled the roost at our house. We doted on her, gave her free run of anything and treated her like a queen. She slept in my bed and managed to take up most of it, despite her diminutive size. When I left to walk to school in the mornings, I would look back and see Katie, sitting on the edge of my bed, peering out the window, watching me go, as my mom stood behind her waving. Katie was always the first to the door to welcome me home in the afternoon (Mom was close behind).

In the summer Katie and I spent many an afternoon playing in the shade of the big elm tree in the back yard.  She helped me through my adolescence and she patiently listened to all of my teenage problems. I have no idea what she thought about all of it, but when she looked straight at me with those shiny, dark brown eyes, I felt like she understood, and somehow I always felt better. 

Katie -- my first dog, my confidant, my friend, you will always hold a special place in my heart!

Monday, March 07, 2011

New Tags Use Barcodes to ID Lost Pets

I have to admire a tech website that launches with a pet-related story on the home page.  It's not often my geek nature and my dog-loving nature collide so happily. The new GeekWire tech news site, which just launched today, includes a story about PetHub, a Seattle startup that's now selling pet ID tags that have barcodes on the back (see: Where's Fido? High-tech tags help pet owners retrieve lost pals).

Instead of the old fashioned methods of going door-to-door, tacking a found pet's photo to a light pole or taking Fido to a shelter to see if he has a microchip, the PetHub ID tag barcodes are readable with smart phone apps that link to a Web "profile page" for your pet, which can provide whatever information you want to share -- an emergency phone number, contact info for your vet's office or a dog daycare, etc.).  Cool idea!  Although I suppose it won't hit the sweet spot of usefulness until more people have barcode reader apps on their phones. (I confess, I already have one such app...that's the geek nature coming through.)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Canine Ennui and Too Much Pluie

Baxter - photo by Jamie Newton

 Long, cold, rainy days mean neither the dogs nor I get our usual exercise.  I have no excuse, as I have a gym membership. The dogs, however, are pretty much stuck inside except for brief forays out to the side lawn. Poor dogs. They have a hard time convincing me to leave my desk and take them for a walk in the rain. I don't melt. I own Gore-tex clothing (after all, I am an Oregonian). No, mostly it's just that I don't really enjoy walking the dogs in the rain... putting on the gear, sloshing through puddles, trying to see between the water spots on my glasses, waiting as the dogs take their sweet time finding just the right spot to do their business, bending down with a poo-bag as rivulets of water cascade over the edge of my raincoat's hood, returning home with muddy feet and realizing I've forgotten to leave a towel by the door...again. I have nothing against rain, mind you. It makes the garden grow. I just get a bit growly about it when there's a tad too much during these short, dark winter days.  And I get even growlier when I don't get in my exercise. So it's a growly feedback loop of sorts. 

The dogs, on the other hand, just exhibit ennui. They pad around, pick up toys and drop them, gaze out the window, pad around some more and, mostly, sleep. I didn't realize just how bad it had become until the rain stopped for a bit the other day and the dogs got a good walk (with my husband while I was engrossed in a work project). They came in all full of excitement. Baxter chased Kirby around the living room and up the stairs, they played keep-away and tug-o-war and both of them were spinning and hopping with genuine glee. They FINALLY got some exercise!

Of course, playful Baxter, who briefly forgot his age, paid for it later. He seemed a tad stiff. But at least he didn't have that look of ennui in his eyes anymore.

I did. So I finally stepped away from the computer and went to the gym.  I didn't return all spinning and gleeful, but I was a tad less growly. Today I suddenly noticed it wasn't dark at 5:00 and that made me feel better too.