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Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Raining, it's Pouring

Ah...spring rain. As a gardener, I love the idea of nature nurturing my petunias, portulacas and peonies. However, as someone who lives with dogs, rainy days come with their own set of challenges, not the least of which is less opportunities for exercise, which translates into more opportunities for misbehaving.

As for the dogs themselves, each of them--past and present--has a different view of the wet stuff. Their viewpoints range from the joy of Gene Kelley's singing and splashing in the movie Singing in the Rain to the Wicked Witch of the West's famous "I'm melting" scene in The Wizard of Oz.

Tucker is probably closer to the witchy side of the scale, with Jasper a close second, if not a tie. The Tuckster will tolerate a soft spring rain, the kind that's more like a mist. Particularly if there's a Ball involved; when you play Ball, the rain disappears. True Tucker Fact. But when there is significant water coming down from the sky, he walks out onto the deck, stops, hunches over, and looks back at me as if to say, "Really? You couldn't turn if off for couple of minutes so a dog could do what a dog has to do?"
A slightly soggy Tucker slinks behind a chair.

Tucker will get to the task at hand (paw) rather quickly, though, and if it's raining really hard, he'll come sit next to me, somehow believing that I will offer protection--even if I don't have an umbrella. Which I rarely do, since I don't really have enough hands for three dogs and one umbrella; the math simply doesn't work.

Jasper doesn't like rain either, but he is particularly unhappy if his paws get wet. A wet Jasper is a sad Jasper--and wet feet are the worst. For him, morning dew is a don't; he'll try to stay on the deck or the patio, or prance through my garden bed rather than let the moist grass tickle his toes. He will manage to grit his way through to do his business, but will quickly head back for dry land as soon as possible. Jasper: 60-plus pounds of doggy princess.
It rained last night and everything is wet. Jasper ponders his next move.

Jasper surveys the wet grass from the relative safety of the mulched bed.

"The wet grass is touching my paws!

Lilah, on the other hand, doesn't mind the water at all. She'll run through wet grass, splash through streams, and galumph through puddles. It's so amusing since Lilah seems at first to be so prissy and delicate, but she's really got more spunk than the two boys put together.

Neither ran nor sleet nor snow nor mud will stop Lilah from her appointed playing. She doesn't mind getting down and dirty--and wet.

Many spring rain and warm days are ahead of us; with lots of opportunities for splashing and playing--or avoiding it if you're a big brave dog like Jasper.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Her Highness, Dawn the Cat

Dawn likes to get High.

And no, I'm not talking about getting into the catnip.

Dawn likes to be physically, logistically, location-wise High. As in looking down from above.

I'm amazed at how, over time, she has managed to find ever more ways to be Up High.

The look on her face when she looks down upon her minions--and, let's face it, when you share your life with a cat, you are a minion--is one of haughty superiority. She looks down upon you physically and metaphorically.

When Athena sees a High Dawn, you can tell Athena wants to get High too. Athena looks up at Dawn, puzzled. She can't figure quite out how Dawn gets where she does. Sometimes, after she watches Dawn, Athena is able to figure out how Dawn did it, but most times she doesn't. Though I also get the impression that Athena simply chooses not to be as reckless as Dawn. Athena is a thinker, as opposed  to Dawn's impulsive doer (and leaper) personality.

Perhaps Athena is right in her careful consideration. Dawn's new favorite high place is a windowsill, where she has gotten stuck several times; Dawn gets up there easily enough but can have some serious issues getting down.

Below are some of Dawn's favorite high places. And a few places Athena goes as well.

Dawn's most favorite spot is at the top of the cat condo. The highest platform is officially hers. At first, Athena would climb the condo, and sometimes there were discussions about who owns which platform, but it soon became clear that Dawn ruled. Sometimes Athena would sleep on the next platform down, but I think Athena prefers the company of humans and humans don't hang out on the condo.

Dawn on the top platform of the cat condo.

Her Highness, Dawn

Sometimes Dawn gets a little crazed when she's High. I've seen her chase her tail on the top platform--and even fall off. But she never knew I saw her...or there would have beeen Consequences. You are not to see a cat look foolish, and live to tell.

Nobody gave you permission to be Higher than Dawn.

Even a place as simple as stairs gives Dawn an opportunity to be High. She loves to stop on the stairs at a height that is taller than the human occupants of the house.

In this picture, I think she's trying to swat the paparazzi (that would be me) away.

Another favorite place for Dawn is on top of a shelf in the laundry room. Her favorite shelf is, of course, the tallest one, which is part of a drying rack that folds out from the wall. To get there, Dawn jumps onto the washing machine, then leaps onto the shelf above the paper towel holder, and then to the High spot. It's a little narrow, so she likes it best when the rack is pulled out, so she can turn around and get down.

Resting on the paper towel holder. I think Dawn is about to start charging the humans a cat treat per sheet.

From the paper towel holder to the drying rack shelf.

It is just too cool to peak around the corner while on the shelf. Now Dawn is High and Sneaky.

Dawn appreciates when the rack is expanded, to make it easier to turn around and get back down.

Athena does not attempt any of the laundry room shelves, but she was happy enough to try out a ladder when Brian was changing a light bulb.

Athena thinks she can help fix the light.

The most recent High discovery for Dawn is the half-moon windows in our living room. She jumps from the back of chair to the windowsill, then walks across the top of a tall bookcase and then saunters over to another windowsill.

Queen of All She Surveys, Dawn perches on the tall windowsill. Note the bookcase in the background that she uses to get to the window. And pay attention to where Dawn's feet are: two on the windowsill and two on top of the blinds. There is no easy way to turn around.

The problem with this High Place is it's ever so narrow, and almost impossible for Dawn to turn around and go back the way she came. She's been on the window three times now. Twice she managed--not too gracefully I might add--to turn around. The third time, she must have decided jumping forward was a better idea. So after she backed up, went forward, backed up, and went forward several times, she decided to make the big leap. That wasn't too graceful either. Though the resulting picture (how could I resist documenting this event?) made it look like Dawn was Spider Cat, simply walking down the wall.

Dawn as Spider Cat.
As I look around my home at other tall bookcases and dressers and buffets--and doors and cabinets and shelves, I am sure that Dawn is not finished with her exploring and experimenting with getting High. Stay tuned; I'm sure some time in the future, I'll have a follow-up post with yet more pictures of Her Highness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All Paws on Deck

When we first bought our house, the deck that came with it was in pretty bad shape; it looked like it hadn't been cleaned, stained or preserved in years. Since then, we've had to replace boards about every two years or so, as they crack and split from the years of neglect.

This was one of those years where the boards needed replacing.

We have a contractor we've used in the past, one who understands our animals and their issues. Bill worked on our basement when it was being redone, and was so patient back then when Lilah still got scared when anything new was brought into the house. That mean nearly every tool, sheet rock panel or piece of wiring had to be gently shown to Lilah so she could touch it with her nose and feel safe. (You can learn more about Lilah overcoming her fears in the post I wrote entitled Lilah Becoming Brave.)

Now Lilah only barks at really big things when they come in the house; otherwise, she's pretty chill. Of course, both she and Jasper remember Bill and absolutely adore him. Jasper can barely control himself; he wags so hard when Bill comes to work on the house that his whole body writhes with joy.

It's not hard to imagine the excitement when Bill came to work on the deck.  Everyone had to get his or her nose into the business. Well, everyone except Dawn, who hid under the bed when it got noisy outside.

Dawn, in her Underbed Cave, trying to feel safe.

Jasper really wants to kiss Bill. Lilah and Tucker behave a little better, waiting their turns to greet him.

The first step was to remove the bad boards, which took about a day. At first, I took the dogs through the garage into the back yard, keeping them on leashes; I was pretty sure they would not expect gaping holes in the floor and I wanted to control their introduction to the deck. I let them up one at a time, and when they looked comfortable and I thought they understood the holes, I took their leashes off. I felt it would be a good exercise in being introduced to something new.

They all took to it pretty well. First Tucker, then Jasper, then Lilah, who was a little unsure at first, but got the hang of it quite fast.

Jasper and Tucker walk the planks.

Lilah cautiously joins Tucker and Jasper.

Tucker finds just the right board to still be able to look out through the rail.

For some reason, everyone has to look down below the deck.

Lilah inspects belowdeck.

Jasper looks into the depths.
Tucker takes a look as well.

By now it was time to replace the missing boards, and of course the dogs--and Athena--helped with the task.

Athena supervises from the safety of the kitchen.

Jasper makes sure the tools are in working order.

Tucker and Jasper oversee some of the installation.

Once the boards are all replaced, Bill and Milton powerwashed the deck, so they can apply the paint/stain.

And of course, Athena kept watch on the progress of that task as well.

Athena needed to get a little height to make sure she could oversee everything as Bill uses the powerwasher.

Thank goodness Bill and Milton are dog people. I'm not sure other contractors would be so patient.

Now all we need is three days without rain for the deck to dry, to enable it to be stained. It's been two weeks and we haven't had that many sunny days in a row yet. I know there was a drought and the rain is a good thing, but I'd really like to have my deck back and to be able to plant my flowers for the year.

And we have lots of time with Bill coming up, as remodeling the kitchen and family room are next on the list.