Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oscar living with cancer

Oscar with owner, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today was the first day I got to meet Oscar. He's a 3 year old Golden Retriever who is dealing with cancer of the bone. It broke my heart hearing about how such a friendly loving dog will have his life cut short and all the options are so bleak.

Oscar is a lucky dog for having a family that loves him so much though. We talked about Oscar’s options and being they have little advantages, they're doing what they can to keep him healthy and happy. With lots of love and being aware of his pain, Oscar will get to live out his days surrounded by love. That is something we all want.

I've read about a few different dog bloggers who have lost a pet lately. My good friend, Jeremy, lost his dog of 16 years. It could just be the onset of winter or just the cycle of life but meeting Oscar made me hold my dog a little closer today to appreciate each day that we are together.

Oscar’s owner put it well by saying the hardest part of owning a dog is loving them so much. My heart goes out to Oscar and feel blessed that I got to meet him.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marty the beagle

Marty the beagle, originally uploaded by phaird.

Well, I'm back out and about. I've been really busy with our new baby Geoffrey but the whole family made it out to Acton park this Sunday. We go there a little late but still, a lot of dogs and families were out.

Being the first day of fall, I'm hoping to get out as much as possible to get more pictures and talk to folks as the season change. We're moving forward on our book and looking to get some stories together soon. There are so many great dogs and owners we've met and we want to get some of that down on paper.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dog is Co-Pilot

I have not been able to get Chagall to Beaver Brook very often recently, due to my schedule. However, it is always a delight to drive there when I do get the opportunity. Whether I take Beaver Street to Waverly Oaks Road or Trapelo Road to Waverly, the view is incredibly entertaining.

Most of the cars lined up in traffic have one or two extremely eager canines riding shotgun or taking up the whole back of the vehicle. As the park gets in sight and smell you can see the cars swaying as the dogs jump throughout the rows of seats. Often barking or whining accompanies the laps.

I have to explain to Chagall that yes we are going to the park. And if I use that word "P-A-R-K", I had better mean it.

Animal lovers have always put their pets in a position of adoration and importance. The fact that you see more and more humans with their dogs riding in the passenger seat or blissfully hanging their heads out a side window to enjoy the cooling breeze brings the point home.

I certainly get a lot of double takes at lights and chuckles nearly 100 percent of the time when people see Chagall sitting at attention in the seat beside me. He looks so serious. The best co-pilot I've ever had!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cover Your Mouth

As I was parking my car in the lot at the Paine Estate in Waltham recently - with my play group - there was a sign in fluorescent orange at one of the trailheads. I stopped and carefully read the warning.

Someone had taken great care to write up a very helpful notice telling people that a dog with "kennel cough" had been walked in these woods and some other animals had gotten infected. It is definitely a highly contagious upper respiratory condition and I appreciated the heads-up.

It is an airborne virus, however in open space like these trails of the Storer Conservation Area the most likely transmission is by drinking out of the same water bowl or very close facial contact through playing. This according to a vet tech I happened upon while she was walking her pooch.

Unfortunately I had previously seen some dogs, in addition to a few of mine, drinking from a couple of communal bowls placed near trees along the wooded trails. There were jugs of fresh waer alongside the bowls. A gesture of compassion and care for the dogs during the summer's hot stretches. The thoughtfulness may have backfired though.

In my case I am happy to report that the contagion has not infiltrated any of my ranks or those of my familiar's.

I ran into two of my favorite other mixed breed male dogs on the trail the other day - Higgins and Ozzie. They were happy and healthy too. My gang just had some good, clean macho fun with the two big guys.

I haven't run into some other of my group's pals recently like Bob and his "wee lad" Devlin, the Westhighland Terrier or the former show dog Debbie, a Miniature Poodle. I hope they are happy and cough-free.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Skunk 101

It serves me right. No more than a few weeks ago I was gloating to people that my 7-plus-year-old dog Chagall had never had the stinkiest encounter possible...with a skunk.
Well, let me set the scene...

When I first moved in to the third floor of this wonderful old house in Watertown, it was early summer of '06. Chagall and I quickly got into the habit of going out the back door and into the fenced-in rectangular backyard just prior to bedtime.
My pup loves to explore the day's accumulation of smells before emptying himself out and curling up in bed with me for the night. Within a few weeks we became aware of a nocturnal yard companion. As I opened the back door one night, with the light from the kitchen illuminating about one-third of the yard, and only the screen door between us, I caught a glimpse of that distinctive black-and-white-striped critter. I slammed the door just as Chagall recognized the intruder.
Ever since that close call, I check the part of the yard that I can see before letting him out. There is a very bushy, heavily-treed large section to the right that is pitch black.
Now you've got the picture.

Last week Chagall and I got home very late one night. Rather than go up to the third floor and come all the way back down in a short period of time, I just let Chagall out back to do his business after a quick glance for anything unwelcome.

I puttered inside the house for 5 to 10 minutes so my dog could get his final fill for the night. All of a sudden I heard his "I thought I saw a puty tat. I did. I did." bark. (He teases my mother's cat, Princess, with it every weekend.) I opened the back door and ran down the steps. Chagall came flying around the corner shaking his head violently from side-to-side. It was either a skunk or a porcupine. When he got a little closer there was no doubt.

I ran back in the house and slammed the door on my poor stinky boy. I went into a dead sprint for paper towels and the old standby tomato juice. I knocked on my landlords' bedroom door to alert them to my crisis. Luckily there was some V8 juice in their frig.

When I finally got really close to Chagall and started the decontamination process, I was surprised by the slight sweetness of the smell on my dog's fur. It was far different than the stench overpowering the air.

Several tomato juice dousings later we went to sleep. An old sheet and towel on my bed. An embarrassed and agitated puppy and a tired owner. By that point the smell was negligible, but by noon the next day it was back strongly on the top of Chagall's wrinkled head.

My landlord has, with the greatest possible affection, renamed my baby "Skunk Blossum." Sounds and smells right to me.

Even after using some over-the-counter "skunk be gone" products lent to me by friends and the formula for a magical removal elixir - hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar and water - there is still that "Pig Pen" cloud over Chagall's head. I've always heard that the smell lingers, particularly on rainy days, for three to six months.

Doesn't it just figure that after all the years of trips deep in the woods and to dog parks, that my baby boy would get outwitted by a skunk on his own turf.