Sunday, April 25, 2010


Oh my.  Thunderstorms are NOT good things to have anymore.  We have two animals that are completely terrified of them.

Bit is the first.  We've known about this for awhile, since we have had her since September 2008.  She is quiet about it, but will retreat under furniture and will refuse to come out at all during the storm, and afterward only with great coaxing from us.  I've tried amusing her with toys and attention when the thunder starts to keep her distracted, but it just doesn't work, so I just let her hide under the couch now even if my first instinct is to try to comfort her.

But Argos had a far more dramatic reaction this afternoon.  I heard the thunder rolling in, and didn't think too much of it, in fact we were getting ready to leave to make a run to Dairy Queen.  But then I noticed that Argos was trembling.

At first I was really alarmed, thinking that he had taken a chill for some reason - I HAD given him a bath just this morning, and didn't blowdry him since it wasn't cold outside.

He was trembling so hard that he could barely stand, with his tail tucked hard.  And this continued throughout the entire storm... trembling violently and panting.  Every time it would thunder, it would get worse.  We've read that you're not supposed to baby a dog TOO much during a storm, so that they don't learn that the fear and trembling is a good thing, and will reward them with much love and attention.  So we tried our best to ignore him while still being present.  We lay in bed and watched a movie on Jeff's iPad, and had him up there with us at our feet.

He was miserable, but I like to think that he took SOME comfort from having us nearby.  The thunder gradually subsided, and he slowly stopped trembling.  He's been out of sorts ever since, though.

He even refused icecream once we did make it to DQ!  Though we don't know if that's normal for him or not... we've never given him any before, so maybe he just doesn't like it?  That seems deviant to me, but this IS the dog that doesn't like peanut butter, even though everyone keeps telling me how much greyhounds are supposed to love the stuff.

Anyway, I'm going to feel bad for him the first time that there is a thunderstorm when he's home alone.  Hopefully he'll just hunker down on the couch and ride it out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Perhaps I have Created a Monster...

I am home alone with the animals for a few hours, something that doesn't happen all that often.  And I think I may have created a monster...

As soon as I got home, I fed Argos.  Then I brought him outside with me so that I could cook MY dinner on the grill - chicken and zucchini and yellow squash.  He was SOOOO excited about the chicken that I made some extra so that I could give him a few pieces.  (No worries - it is boneless chicken breasts.)

So as I'm eating, I give him several bites of chicken.

Then he still seems to be crazy restless hungry, so I give him an additional 3/4 cup of kibble on top of the generous serving that I gave him for his actual dinner.

Haha, it was a full half hour before he'd leave me alone enough for me to finish my meal.

It's probably best that we don't usually indulge him this much - otherwise, he'd quickly become unsufferable every time we wanted to eat!

I have to say that I feel an immense amount of satisfaction in watching him fill out though.  Here is a picture of him begging for even MORE food, giving me the "I'm starving to death" look.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Saturday in the Life...

Saturday morning is my weekend day to get up with Argos, so it starts early:  at 6:00 AM, when my alarm goes off.  Here's how the day goes:

 I stumble around, looking for easy to wear clothes,   in the dark, while trying not to wake up my husband. As I'm balancing on one leg in the dark, tugging on my sweats,  I will have one cat, Annie, purring and rubbing around my ankles to get my attention.  She will trip me, making me catch ahold of the bed to balance myself.  Which wakes the husband up anyway.  "Wha?" he asks, confused.

"Nothing, hon.  Go back to sleep."

"Mmmph."  *snore*

I'm finally dressed, and stumble across the floor to the dog crate, where Argos is already standing and turning around in circles in his eagerness to get out.  I open the door, and he comes out, stretching several times before he's actually willing to walk anywhere.  It's part of his routine to run over to the bed to sniff at the husband and get a quick pet, but then he's eager to go downstairs.  He knows what's next.

I come down the stairs, finally able to turn on a light without bothering anyone, tripping over Annie and probably Bit on the stairs.

Charlotte is sitting next to the refrigerator, waiting for me, and promptly starts demanding milk,  loudly, as soon as she sees me.  (Good morning to you too, Charlotte.)

I am a well-trained human, so give her milk to keep her happy and quiet.  I also have to give her half of a pill and .75 milliliters of lasix, which is always a joy.  Did I mention that she has sharp claws and teeth?  Most of the time I can get it down her without getting injured, but my fingers have gotten bloodied a few times.  Charlotte is nothing if not a cat with a serious attitude problem.

If Argos wants to go outside at this point, I take him into the backyard for a quick potty break.  Though oddly enough, he rarely shows much interest, and even if I do take him outside, he dallies around.

Then I feed him, which involves having him follow me across the dining room spinning in circles and cavorting with pure joy.  Food!!!  The cats scatter, alarmed at how much noise a greyhound makes when dancing across hardwood floors.  I dump his food in the bowl, then shamble, still sleepy, into the living room.

Then I crash on the couch.  Argos usually joins me after he eats, and we doze until 7:00, when it's time for his walk.  He's a male dog, so we spend a lot of time with him sniffing and peeing on EVERYTHING...  Oh, and his favorite time to poop is when we have a large number of people watching us.  If I see people gathering on the sidewalk, I am almost guaranteed that he is going to start pooping in the grass momentarily.

We finally get home, with him having pooped exactly twice, and watered at least a dozen trees, fire hydrants, telephone poles, and bushes.  I try to keep him away from anything that would get us yelled at, so no peeing on pretty flowers,  stairways, trashbags or cans,  or toys or small children abandoned on the sidewalk.

The rest of the day, assuming that I don't go anywhere, is spent with animals trying to get me to do things.  I have cats that want me to go upstairs and take a nap, presumably so that they can climb on top of me or beside me and steal all of my warmth.  They will meow at my feet and try to herd me to the stairs at EVERY opportunity.  And if I do go upstairs, they race ahead of me excitedly.

Argos will notice that I am going upstairs and hit the stairs at a gallop, and run all the way to the top.  Have you ever heard a 75 lb. greyhound run up hardwood stairs?  It sounds like the house is coming down around our ears!  The cats are usually displeased about this.  Argos will first go into the study, where he really hopes that I am going, because he has a comfy bed in there that he loves.  But he's also more than happy to sleep on either of the human beds, in our bedroom or the guest room,  depending on what I'm going upstairs to do.

The mundane things are the most exciting, at least to the animals.  Today, for example, I had three cats and a greyhound watching me avidly as I repotted a large number of zinnia seedlings.  They were fascinated.  I was on the floor beside the guest bed, and I kept seeing little gray paws (Bit) popping out from under the bed to try to drag my peat pots underneath.

If we have to leave, it's always a production.  We do a headcount of all of the cats to make sure that they're all upstairs, then shut them up there.  Argos stays downstairs.  We do another sweep of the downstairs to make sure that there isn't anything lying out that he shouldn't get into.  That used to just be food and plastic bags, etc., but now I've had to add to that list:  wash cloths, dish towels, socks, etc., since he's decided that these are magnificent sources of dietary fiber.

Argos sulks on the couch while we get ready to go.  He knows that we're leaving, and somehow he also knows that we're not taking him with us.

We go do our thing... and then return!

Argos has conniptions at the door the moment we walk in.  He acts like he was completely certain that we had been dead in a ditch, and it just made his entire week to see us walk in the door, still alive.  It takes us a good five minutes to get him to quit leaping and cavorting around us.

I go and open the door between the floors of the house, and cats stream down.

Then we go into the evening routine, which is very much like the morning routine, but kind of in reverse.  Argos gets fed.  An hour to digest his food, and then a walk.  Then we all relax for the evening.  Usually the cats join us.  Argos goes out for one more pee break, then gets put in the crate.

The cats demand that we go to bed, with Bit insisting that she get Petromalt.

ANYWAY, it's probably a lot of boring detail, which I hope that I made at least somewhat amusing, but I wanted to highlight just how much a part of your life pets can be.  Even something non-pet-oriented, such as potting zinnia seedlings, becomes a "family event."

And I love it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Argos Has a Bad Day

Sometimes, it's easy to forget that Argos has had little to no "life experience" before he came to us, even though he is six years old.  His life at the track was very regimented and of course there were many things that he wasn't exposed to at all; things that a dog raised in a home would discover as a puppy.

The big ones are the ones that any good greyhound adoption group will warn you about:  they sometimes have to be taught how to do really basic stuff, like walking up stairs or being able to balance on hardwood floors.  (Argos does well with the regular hardwood floor now, but HATES the laminate in the kitchen.  He has fallen on it a couple of times because he can't seem to get his footing on it.  He avoids the kitchen whenever possible.)

But there's a host of other little (and not so little) things as well.

Last night, Argos discovered his very first thistle plant.  It didn't go well, to say the least.  My first clue that there was a problem was when I saw my greyhound leap three feet in the air and try to run away...  of course I was attached to the other end of the leash, so he didn't get very far.  I think he thought that plant was going to uproot itself and chase after him or something.

And then once he's been startled, it's really hard to calm him down.  A few minutes later, someone revved the engine of their car when they passed us on the road, and he flipped out, again trying to run away.  I'm not sure that my shoulder can take too many more of these leash-wrenches.

Later, in the house, he bumped into a slightly ajar door and knocked it shut.  He about had a heart attack at the slamming sound.

So of course, I add to his ever-deepening paranoia first thing this morning, when I fed him breakfast.  I was carrying his bowl of fresh water in one hand and the food in the other.  I put the food down first, since that's what he was REALLY interested in, but in the process, accidentally dumped half of the water on top of his head.

Gah.  Some days, my boy, you're going to find that you just can't win.

On a happier note, it's fun to introduce him to fun things that he's never seen before.  I've enjoyed introducing toys to him, and while he's still adapting to the concept of "play," he does love his squeaky toys.  Other fun things that he discovered, and was astounded by:

1.  The couch.
2.  Our bed.  (These things are SOFT!)
3.  McDonald's hamburgers (plain, especially with no onions)
4.  Laps.
5.  The park.
6.  People.  Though as his idea of "pack" solidifies, he is less and less interested in random passers-by.
7.  Blowdryers.  He loves getting blow-dried, especially if he is getting brushed at the same time.  He'll turn around to give me access to other parts that he wants dry, and will stretch his neck out to let you brush under his chin.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Food Hockey

One of Annie's favorite things to do is to play what we like to call "food hockey," though I guess it's more like "food soccer."  She takes a piece of kibble and bats it back and forth from paw to paw.  The game can become pretty involved, moving down the hall, into any of the bedrooms, and sometimes even down the stairs.  It can also be very loud - you wouldn't think a single piece of kitty kibble could make soooo much noise, even on hardwood floors, but it does!

I should probably enter "food hockey" into the lexicon of terms that I put up early on in this blog.  And that leads to another lexicon term, "kitty caltrop."  Because rather than eat the hockey puck when she's done with a game, Annie will abandon it wherever it lies.  Then I will inevitably step on it, and will inevitably be barefoot...

But I have to laugh at how seriously she takes this game.  Once, I saw her bat the piece of food towards Bit.  Now, I don't know if she hadn't realized that Bit was there, or if she was trying to get Bit to join in the game.  But Bit didn't do that - she just stretched out her neck and gobbled up the "puck."

There was a moment that Annie just stared at her in horror (and no, I don't think that I'm anthromorphizing overly much here - her outrage was fairly obvious.)  Then she turned and walked sadly away.

I couldn't help it - I started laughing.  Nothing drives a cat into the sulks quite like laughing at them, of course, so Annie went to hide for the rest of the afternoon.  Poor thing.  She is so misunderstood.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vet Check-Up

So, Charlotte went in for her quarterly vet check-up, and it looks like she's doing very well.  Her vitals are good, the EKG looked good.  She's about due for an echocardiogram, as soon as they find out when the guy who does those is going to be in the office on a day other than Friday.  (Fridays are nearly impossible for us to get there during business hours.)

I'm always so very glad to get confirmation that our baby is doing well... I'm very aware of the fact that she has already lived longer than the vet thought possible, so am always highly concerned about her.

Argos is suddenly fascinated with Charlotte, and we kind of have to keep an eye on him.  It apparently started when Jeff brought her back from the vet this afternoon, still in her carrier.  Argos stared at the carrier and gave it a thorough sniffing over.  Jeff had to move him away from it long enough to open the door and let Charlotte out.  After which Argos eagerly followed her, sniffing at her behind.

This has NEVER happened before.  I don't think Charlotte knew what to make of it!

I figured it was just the novelty of having another animal brought into the house while he's here, but when we all got back from our evening walk, I came into the room to see him sniffing her and wagging his tail.  Charlotte handled it pretty well, though looked vaguely disgusted.

I'm okay with sniffing and tail wagging, as long as he doesn't start to try to chase her.  We'll just have to keep an eye on them.

I find myself wondering if he thinks that she is a new cat, instead of the old one that hisses at him all of the time.

And oddly, she WASN'T hissing at him.