Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Since we are experiencing tech problems, I present The Great Sadinski!!

Yes, this really is a dog and yes, she sticks her tongue out ALL THE TIME. Meet Sadie Carolina, the fourth and last (at this point - altho I'm holding out for more) of our dogs in our married life.

When we last left off, Panda was on her own with the three remaining cats. It was not a good time for Panda and me. She was used to going outside and hassling Jake all day and now that attention turned to me. What're we going to do next? Will you throw the tennis ball for the five hundredth time? When do I eat? Why can't I claw your leg like that? You get the picture. Panda was bored and nobody, I mean nobody wants to be around a bored Panda. It's very damaging to the human psyche

Panda and I were desperate. I turned to the only person I knew who might help us. A lovely "Boston Lady" who lives with her sweet husband in Gainesville. They are Boston breeders and I had been communicating with her since before Panda barrelled into our lives. She had a dog that was going to have puppies and I was promised one of the females.
Now, Panda and I just had to convince her "father" to let us get some fresh meat for Panda to boss around. Surprisingly it wasn't that hard to convince him. A Saturday alone with Panda while trying to watch a Gator Football game was almost all it took! Okay, so I also had to enlist our daughter to help work on him as well and between the three of us we managed to make him see the sense in bringing another drooling, snoring, barking, licking mess of a dog into our home.
It was a big chance we were taking. Would this dog be the mental giant, yet totally eccentric dog like Ziggy. Or perhaps the not-so-bright, untrainable, destructive, but oh so lovable Jake. We certainly didn't want another female dog "who thinks she's a male dog and dominates everything she sets her eyes upon", like Panda. In spite of all this we rolled the dice again and drove to Gainesville to pick up our little Sadie.

She has fit right into our household from the start. There has never been a more obedient, good-tempered, lovable dog on earth. And that's not just my opinion. She and Panda hit it off well from the beginning. Naturally that's because Panda is the head honcho. In her mind, we have provided her with the perfect submissive playmate. Sadie happily goes along with whatever Panda wants. She even will play the "tough one" if Panda is feeling a little like playing the underdog.

With the addition of Sadie to the house we were back to two dogs and three cats. Oh, I almost neglected to include the most useful member of our menagerie, the rabbit. And the rabbit.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pandas Aren't Really Bears

They are really aliens as you can plainly see...

This strange looking creature ushered our family into the strange world of Boston Terrier owners. How could we resist such a face?

Due to my inexperience in the blogging world (which already I'm getting better at) I was unable to scan pictures of the legendary Ziggy and the incorrigible Jake. Thus, I decided to continue down the line of dogs this family has owned. Wait, that is totally inaccurate. I've decided to continue down the line of dogs that have owned US.

Panda came into this crazy household when Jake was about 10. Jake had finally started settling down and acting like I thought a dog should. Sleeping a lot, not ripping out cables, chewing food as opposed to furniture, well, you get the idea. Life was settled, it was calm, it was - a bit boring. We needed a new challenge. Enter the great Boston hunt.

Much research was first done on the internet to find the "perfect" type of dog (this time - no more Labs!). The search was narrowed down to two perfect breeds. The Chinese Crested and the Boston Terrier. Well, I kind of like my dogs to have some hair on them and I didn't think the rest of the family would accept something quite as "unique" as the Crested. Besides, black and white go with just about anything and a Boston wouldn't clash with most of the furniture in the house.

Actually, the real reason a Boston was the perfect breed was because they are so portable and supposedly easy to train. I wanted to get a dog that I could easily take places with me and that would be well-behaved. My mother had recently passed away and I remembered how well received the therapy dogs were by the residents in her nursing home. My dad was not doing well after her death and I liked the idea of being able to bring a pet into the nursing home to visit him. It turned out to be a very good idea.....

It was love at first sight and a real pick-me-up for my dad. Grandpa H loved Panda and even named a little park nearby his place "Panda Park". How many dogs can say they have a park named in their honor? Panda, who could have a bit of an attitude at home, took on a most professional air upon entering the nursing home. She would approach everyone in a very demure fashion and sit on their laps without wiggling at all. My dad eventually had to use a wheelchair and he and Panda would ride around the hallways and Grandpa H would proudly say to everyone "how do you like my dog"? Panda brought a special light into my dad's world the last year of his life and fortunately I brought her to see him a couple of days before he died. He was resting in his bed and patted the blanket beside him where he wanted Panda to lay. The rambunctious, naughty, cranky, hyper Panda laid there, simply laid there and let her good friend pat her head.
When I think back on how much Panda meant to my dad it makes me feel really good and I also realize how she brought a little extra excitement into old Jake's life as well. He was used to being top dog, but accepted Panda right away. He was gentle with her just as he was with all our various creatures. As a very young puppy she would stand on her hind legs and box Jake's face with her front paws. Jake would tolerate this for several minutes and then snap his head away with a bit of a growl. He may have been a gentle giant, but he had his limits. Jake and Panda were buddies for three years. When Jake died, Panda would look for him and just couldn't understand where her hero could have possibly gone.
So, Panda was on her own with three cats and (oh, haven't I mentioned this pet?) a rabbit. She liked to think she was the dominant force in the household, but she didn't know cats the way I know cats. No one, and I mean no one, dominates a cat. So, in her frustration, Panda has constantly tried to dominate the humans in the household throughout the years. And, well, she has probably partially succeeded, but we try out best to outwit her. Oh yes, we let her think she's boss, but exactly how seriously are we supposed to take a dog that lays like this:

You can see by the look on our daughter's face that she, like the rest of us, know that Panda's gruff, tough-girl/I think I'm a boy-dog ways, are just a front. The true Panda is always revealed when she's least aware, in slumber. And just in case you were wondering, YES, she snores!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In The Beginning...

Well, some would say it started with this one, Panda. What is "it" you ask? It is a learned love of dogs.

I grew up in a "cat household". Yes, I was deathly allergic, but we were a "cat household" nonetheless. My mother absolutely loved cats, and it's not that she loved me less than them, but she knew that through constant and prolonged exposure to the feline fur and dander I would eventually build up some immunity. And I did. Until we got a new cat and then I would have to get used to the new one's unique coat.

I used this philosophy in my adult life and have successfully owned four cats through the years. All different types of fur, each needing their own adjustment period. Yep, I was a confirmed cat person. Until... I met HIM. My future husband. He had only grown up with dogs. It was a true stumbling block in our relationship. Could we get along? Would we make the effort to indulge the other's pet preferences?

Enter Ziggy, the German Shepherd. Of course, when we found him and his litter mates abandoned in a stairwell in a building at The University of Florida, we had no idea he was a German Shepherd. We picked him because he was the only one to stand and greet us. It wasn't until months later his nose started lengthening and he got the distinctive markings. And, a big deal to us, his ears stood up. Since Ziggy was our first child, he got oodles of attention. He went everywhere with us and he was our baby. Hours were spent on training techniques which paid off in the long run, because he was the most obedient dog. His greatest talent, in his "father's" eyes was his flawless ability to catch a frisbee in the air. Ziggy was with us for 12 years, through both of our children's births and three cats.

Next came what I like to refer to as the Lost Lab Years. One day about 6 months after Ziggy died, my son and husband returned home from a mysterious errand with a squirming yellow furball. Lab puppies are the cutest puppies you will ever see and I know why they were created that way. It's how God has protected them from the frustration and outrage of their owners. Where Ziggy was obedient, Jake, our yellow lab, was mischevious. Ziggy could look at your face and know exactly what you wanted from him. Nothing ever seemed to sink in easily with Jake - we never went as far as to call him dumb, hey, he was a blonde.
Jake's face, although beautiful, was just a way to display his goofy expression and make you forgive him. What could we possibly have to forgive him for ? One set of outdoor PVC furniture, one screen porch, one cable box ripped from the cinderblock siding of our home, countless tool handles, doorframes, floor tiles, car seats. These were Jake's conquests and the only ones I can recall off the top of my head. But, one look in those beautiful eyes, and we forgave him again and again. He was our "special child" and we loved him for 13 years. He was a four cat dog.

So, it is possible for someone to be both a dog and cat person. But what does it take to be a Boston person?