Saturday, February 26, 2011

Argos in Repose

Okay, many of you have already seen these pictures, but I came across a new-to-me blog today that is having a contest for those who post pictures of their sleeping doggies.  And I just couldn't resist...  we have so very many pictures of Argos sleeping.  I understand that is a common thing for People With Greyhounds (PWGs).  So enjoy the pictures, and head on over to the blog in question - and meet Reilly, at

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

An Argos at rest tends to stay at rest...

My Wishlist

Awhile ago, I posted ways that we as dog owners and dog walkers can help our dogs to be good "ambassadors" for their breed, which was really just a short list of ways that we could be courteous to other people in our neighborhood.  A little courtesy goes a long way, after all.

Which caused me to start thinking about courtesy, and I have come up with a list of courtesies that I wish would be shown to ME, as a dog (and cat) owner, more often.

1.  That people wouldn't just assume that they can rush up and start gushing over my dog.  Luckily for me (and for the people doing the gushing) Argos doesn't really mind, and is not going to retaliate by biting or snarling.  But for all his friendliness, he's a little reserved, and I can see sometimes that certain people make him uncomfortable.  Which provokes my protective instincts and makes ME want to snarl at people on his behalf.

2.  That other dog owners wouldn't automatically assume that it's okay to let their dogs rush up to Argos when we're out on a leashed walk.  It's normally okay.  But dogs are territorial creatures.  Argos happens to be a submissive dog, so probably would never so much as snap at another dog, but...  I would feel terrible if he did.  Especially if the other dog was one of the little tiny ones.  But that means that owners of little tiny dogs should not let their charges jump up on him!  It puts an awful lot of the burden of keeping those dogs safe on my shoulders when that happens.

3.  Don't tell me what to do with my dog.  I have been subjected to so many mini-lectures on what I should be doing with my dog from people who don't know as much as my name, or anything about dogs, let alone the peculiarities of his breed. Have my dog walk beside me, have him walk behind me, in front of me, don't let him pee, do let him pee, put a different collar on him, don't let him sniff anything, you shouldn't have a large dog in the city, blah blah blah blah blah.  I've probably heard it all.  I have certain ideas of what is or is not acceptable for my dog to do, so unless he's doing something that affects someone directly,  I really wish that they'd just let me enjoy my time with my dog without the comments from the peanut gallery.

4.  Don't treat us as the representative of everything that you don't like about dogs.   You don't like dog owners because they don't clean up dog poop?  Fine, I can understand that.  But you see, I am cleaning up the dog poop.  I carry, conspicuously, a roll of blue bags.  And I really don't want to hear a litany of the "evils" of everything canine.  I'm sorry to hear that dogs have been getting into your trash, pooping on your lawn, that the neighbor's dog keeps you up with his constant barking.  But we are none of these people.

5.  DO treat us as part of the neighborhood.  I love it when people call out greetings to my dog, especially if they've learned his name and made efforts to get to know us.  I want my dog to be part of the neighborhood.  I let him be part of my family, after all, so why wouldn't I want friends and neighbors to include him?

6.  Don't act resentful at me for having to go home to take care of my dog.  Yes, my life is different now.  I can't just drop everything and go out for an evening on the town.  Much like a parent of a human child, my time is not my own anymore, whether you approve of it or not.  So no, I can't stay after work on Friday night for Happy Hour, unless I've made special arrangements ahead of time.  No, I can't go out to eat at 6:00 PM, not without taking Argos for a walk and feeding him first.  Comments made for the purposes of shaming me for being "too obsessed with my dog" are unkind and unfair.  After all, these people won't be cleaning dog poop off of the dining room floor if Argos is kept from his evening potty break.  And besides, I enjoy spending that time with him.  I like him better than most of the people doing the shaming, for that matter.

7.  And now for one that has nothing to do with dogs - but my cats.  And that is... be respectful of my choice to have multiple cats!  I resent the implication that is sometimes made that I must be a crazy cat lady.  I've had people actually take a step back from me when they find out that I have four cats.  Really?
I have four cats that are extremely well-treated, pampered, fed the best of foods.  They never go outside, and therefore are never anyone else's problem.   They needed a home, I gave them a home.  They are happy, they make me happy.  So be happy for me or go away.

Random picture of Argos, since blog posts need eye-candy!

So, pet people, am I leaving anything out?  Are there things that non-pet-people do that drive you crazy? Leave me your comments - serious or not so!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Feliway and Greyhounds... a Two Part Post

No, I am not here to report that Feliway has any effect on greyhounds whatsoever.  Argos has remained blissfully ignorant of the plug-in that we got for Romeo's benefit.

Part The First, Feliway and a Romeo Update

But I did want to report that we've had the Feliway plug-in for 24 hours, and it MIGHT actually be having an effect on Romeo.  I'm fairly certain that I'm seeing what's really there and not just what I would like to see ...  he seems a bit more relaxed.  We have it in the dining room, where he hangs out most of the time, and where his food and water are.  It's also the room where Charlotte tormented him several nights ago... blocking his way out of the room until he peed and crapped in there because he couldn't make it to the litter box in time.  (Charlotte, my dear lady, I love you dearly, but sometimes you are really a bitch.)

Friday night, Romeo started to show signs of a possible bladder infection... he'd strain in the litter box for awhile, and maybe only produce a quarter-size wet spot.  And kept going back in, every hour or so, to try again.  He did this before, when we first got him, and the vets seemed to think that it was stress-induced, but gave us antibiotics just in case it was bacterial.  They were certain it wasn't the bloody shards thing that male cats can get sometimes.  So I was fairly certain that this was stress-induced as well... he didn't show any signs of visible pain, and was eating and drinking normally.  But we hauled him to the vet, always a fun Saturday afternoon activity,  to be sure.  I know that kitty bladder infections can be very serious, even fatal,  if left untreated.

The vet is almost positive that it is stress-induced.  Romeo is too fat (ahem) for the vet to be able to feel the bladder to be 100% certain that it is blocked or not blocked, but he was pretty sure that Romeo would have reacted a lot more strongly to the pressure had there been a blockage there.  I almost died laughing when the vet told us that cats with a bladder obstruction almost never want to eat... because as he was telling us this, he opened a drawer and pulled out a can of "gooshy food" one of Romeo's favorite treats.  Because I knew what was going to happen.  The vet popped the top off, and Romeo leapt to his feet, and practically tore the can out of the man's hand.  The vet only gave him a spoonful in the end, but Romeo inhaled it.  He kind of laughed, and then said, "Clearly, this cat has no appetite issues."

SO anyway.  The vet listened to our tale of woe about the cats not getting along, and recommended the Feliway plug-in.  I know that several people on here have suggested it, but there almost always seemed to be some kind of qualifying statement  "This doesn't always work, but..."  etc.  And they're so expensive - I think $65?  that I have hesitated to spend the money on one, since it might not even work.  But... the vet had them in stock, and we just got one directly from him.

As I mentioned earlier, we've had it running for about 24 hours now.  When I went into the dining room to check on Romeo this evening, I was expecting him to stump away from me as fast as he could...  he will show us affection if he's in the living room in "his" papisan chair, or on the dining room radiator, but if he's on the floor he tries to get away because he's afraid we're going to take him upstairs.  (I know, I know, the horror.)  But he stopped and started head-butting my feet, demanding attention, and purring, and dropped over on his side right in front of me.  Granted, yes, he did then try to herd me towards his food bowl, but I will call that progress!  He is blissfully snoozing in the chair right now, only his ears twitching to let me know that he is listening to me type.

Part the Second:  Greyhounds

I kept meaning to post this last week, but to say that I had the week from hell would be something of an understatement.  So, better late than never...  Last weekend, I volunteered at a Petco Meet & Greet but wound up going without my husband or even Argos.   I stopped by Steel City Greyhounds and picked up one of the adoptable hounds, Soloman.  (Who is a loveable cuddle machine, btw.)  I took him, and met another volunteer, who had picked up Pepsi, one of the other adoptables.  (Pepsi was originally named Bang Bang, but her name was changed because she came into the adoption program right after we won the Pepsi grant.)  We had a great time, and I made a blog post at the blog that I do for Steel City Greyhounds.  Anyone know of someone in the Pittsburgh area that is looking for a great family dog?  I know of a few!  Here is the blog post that I made about Soloman and Pepsi:

Then yesterday, someone else took the third adoptable greyhound, Bobby, back to the Petco for another Meet & Greet.  I didn't go to this one because I had family obligations, AND, unbeknownst to me, my cold was turning into something far more sinister... bronchitis with a higher than usual chance at becoming pneumonia (as I found out at an urgent care clinic this morning.  Oh joy.)  She absolutely loved Bobby, and sent me a description of how he acted along with pictures.  I made a blog post about him as well, which you can view at the link below!  All three dogs are still looking for homes.

The Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show is coming up soon.  It is a huge event, and has a large turn-out every year.  Steel City Greyhounds has a booth, and yours truly is manning it, this coming Saturday for a few hours, and then again next Saturday.  We did it last year, though we'd only had Argos for a couple of months by that point, but really loved it.  If you're in the Pittsburgh area, I would love to see you at the show!  Email me if you're going to be there and I'll let you know the hours I'll be around.

I hope that everyone has a great week!  I wish that I could say I had the holiday off tomorrow, so that I could stay home and rest and recuperate one more day, but unfortunately have to go to work.  I'm going to try to take it easy once I'm there, though.  My cats are already looking at me disapprovingly as I try to prepare things for tomorrow.  They would much rather I stay in bed and let them drape themselves over me.  Argos doesn't glare disapprovingly, but will give me sad, sad eyes in the morning.

Friday, February 18, 2011


It is Friday, at long last.  It's been a rough week, especially for Romeo and for me.

We had an unexpected family tragedy early in the week, and as if that wasn't sobering enough,  I started to come down with a nasty cold late Wednesday afternoon and have been slowly tanking ever since.  I'm out of time off at work until March 1, so didn't have the option of staying home.  So, trooper-like, I drug myself into work for two more days, probably to the dismay of my co-workers.

Romeo is still struggling to fit in, as we discovered when Charlotte snuck downstairs and got locked in with him all night on Wednesday.  I am too tired to go into many details, but it is clear that they're not ready for unsupervised time together yet.  I was extremely disappointed.  I have reached out to several people who are more experienced with multiple cat households than I am, and got some good advice. The next thing that we're trying is valerian root, which Kat from Kat's Kats recommended.  I'm going to make a tea out of it this weekend, and then dab it on all of them.  I'm guessing back behind their necks where you'd normally put flea treatment.  Not only do cats tend to like the way that valerian smells, but the hope is that it will make them all smell similar enough to one another that they just accept that they're a pride, and get on with life.    Keep your fingers crossed for me. We need to get these kitties socialized with one another!

And speaking of Romeo, his fur was starting to look really nasty.  He's a big boy, and I think he was having difficulty reaching his back to groom himself.  So Jeff, my beloved husband, knowing that I didn't feel up to it but was going to guilt myself into doing it anyway, took it upon himself to give Romeo a bath before I got home from work tonight.  I'd purchased a cat shampoo from Petco last week.  He looks much better, though damp and NOT pleased, in the picture below.

Please don't judge me for the streaky window behind him.  It's February in Pittsburgh and I can't keep up with the salt and the snow and the ice and the slush!

He does seem to be adapting well to a reduced diet.  It's still his regular dry food, but measured out morning and evening instead of allowing him to "free feed."  I don't know that he's actually lost any weight yet, but these things don't happen overnight.

Some of you may remember that this summer, I made a post about how nicknames for our animals seem to proliferate in this house.  ( for those who weren't following at the time or who chose for some strange reason not to commit this to memory.  At the time, I mentioned that Romeo and Argos didn't have as many nicknames because they hadn't been "blessed" to live with us as long as the girls had.

But Romeo has another nickname now.  It start out as Puddin', then became Pud', then inexplicably became "The Duke of Pudding."  So there you have it.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I love my animals.  I love the chaos that they sow, I love the peace that they bring.  I love having learned the lesson that chaos and peace are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  Every once in awhile, though, I have a wave of nostalgia for the mornings that I used to have.  When I could be out of bed and ready for college classes in half an hour...  now, my mornings take far, far longer to get started.

Alarm goes off.  Before I even have it turned off, I feel the bed jolt as Annie leaps up onto the bed, and quickly after that, I can hear her loud, deep purring. and loud, crow-caw-like meows.  I imagine that the dialogue goes something like this:  "Oh hi!  You're awake!  Since you're awake already, you want to pet me.  Right?  Pet me?  Please?  Oh yes, say that you will.  Hi!"

I get up, and Annie follows along behind me.  "I'm your favorite, right, right?  Please pet me.  Mom!  I need some reassurance, please pet me!  Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou."

Once I get to the bathroom, Charlotte is sitting in the middle of the floor, giving Annie a disdainful look.  She looks up at me.  "Can you believe this kid?  Seriously, some of us have some pride."  Her tail shakes indignantly, but she purrs when I lean over to scritch her under the chin.  "Though we still DO like attention.  Hi."

She watches me carefully as I clean out litter boxes.  "You missed a spot," she informs me, smugly.

I start to shower, which means that Charlotte clears out, but Annie lies down on the towel that I've put beside the tub.  "I'll just guard you while you shower, okay?  I'm proving how much I love you.  Pet me!"

And when I get out of the shower, she is still there.  She always looks a little miffed when I go for the towel. and she has to get up.   Every single morning.

Meanwhile, out in the hall, I hear Bit trilling.  "Mom, mom mom mom mom mom!"  When I go out to see what all of the racket is about, I see that she has one of the infamous stinkbugs, turned upside down, on the floor.  "Mom!  Oh hi!  Look, it's a stinkbug!"  She is clearly very proud of her catch, and I scratch her gently, then go back to my morning routine.

Annie seeks reassurance constantly while I flat-iron my hair, and iron my clothes for work.  Charlotte tries to herd me towards the stairs.  "Don't you think it's time for breakfast?" she chides.  "After all, I'm sick and we wouldn't want to upset me, right?  Oh.. do I have to take that nasty medicine today?"  She sighs, and endures the "dosing" stoicly, then starts herding me towards the stairs again.    When I finally go along with it, she sighs heavily, and starts to thump down them.  "It's about time!"

I can hear Bit in the background. "Mom mom mom mom mom!  I'm playing with one of your slipper socks mom!  Best toy ever!  Mom mom mom!  Don't you want to see?  It's your favorite one!"

Once downstairs, I hear a loud thump from the couch, and Argos bounds up to me  (this is assuming that Jeff got up with him, otherwise I'm retrieving him from his crate.)

"Oh hi hihi!  It's been so long!  I was afraid that you were gone.  Is it time to go for a walk yet?"

I give Charlotte her milk, which makes her purr contentedly.

I greet Romeo, who keeps a wary eye on Charlotte, but endures my petting with grace.  He'll even purr.   "Take that evil cat away," he pleads.  "I want to be downstairs by myself.  My territory!  Make her go away!"  If I pet too long, he nips my hand, albeit very gently,  my sign that it's time to move on  (I've heard that this is more overstimulation than aggression.)

Argos and I go outside for the morning walk, which makes him dance.  "Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!"  His tail wags excitedly and his eyes sparkle with happiness.  "I get to sniff things, and mark things, and maybe there will be other dogs!  Do you think that treat guy will be there?"   It takes twice as long as it should, because he's a male dog that has to pee on everything.  And everyone greets him by name.  He sees it as his sworn duty to greet each and every person that allows it.  "I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings," he says, with a wag of his tail and a doggie grin.  The crossing guard, his bestie, always has a milkbone or two in his pocket.

We get back, and it's time to send Charlotte back upstairs. She gives me a dirty look, but starts hopping up the stairs.

Argos is starting to get sad eyes on me, because he knows that I'm going to work.  "Awww....  I thought that we were going to spend the day together.  You don't want to leave me, do you?  What if you never come back?  Who will feed me?  Who will take care of me?"  He jumps up on the couch and circles once, then throws himself down in abject misery.

I make sure that he has water, that Romeo has food and water, that everything that a greyhound might mistake for something edible is put away safely.  Romeo by now has jumped up into the papisan chair and watches me as I ready myself for work.    I finally break outside...  an hour and a half later.  I'm almost always running, hoping that I don't miss the bus.

But, I don't think I'd trade it back to the easier days.  Easier, yes.  But the joy that I'd be missing out on...  nope.  Couldn't give that up for anything.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Being an Ambassador

When I adopted Argos, I knew that I would grow fond of him, and love him dearly.  What I wasn't expecting is for me to feel the same way about greyhounds in general.  While I will always push friends and acquaintances to adopt their dogs instead of getting them through breeders, and am happy when ANY dog gets adopted, I feel somehow RESPONSIBLE for the greyhound breed.

Which means that I've always got my eye out for potential greyhound adopters.  No, no, I am not going up and down the street knocking on doors, or asking everyone I meet if they would like to adopt a greyhound.  That would be super-annoying, and I would expect people to start to avoid me!  Most of the time, if someone is at all amenable to the idea of adopting a greyhound, they approach me, not the other way around, and I make a point to patiently answer all of their questions.

And of course I volunteer to do Meet & Greets, and do my best to give a good yet accurate portrayal of the greyhound breed to potential adopters.  The term that I've heard used to describe Argos, who is with me throughout all of this, is an "ambassador dog."  People look at him, and how he behaves, and use what they see to help them make a decision.  No pressure!

But that has caused me to start thinking:  yes, people at the Meet & Greets are looking at Argos, and to some extent me, and using what they see to help make decisions, but the same thing happens out on the street, when we take our walks, or out in the woods when we run into hikers or other dog owners.  Since we live in an urban(ish) area, it is nearly impossible to NOT run into people when we go out walking.  So, what can I do to make sure that people walk away with the best possible impression of the breed?  What can ANYONE do to give people a good impression of their dog's breed, without going overboard and being overly concerned about what people think?  

This is what I've come up with so far:

1.  Poop.  Everyone's favorite subject.  Every time I've heard a non-dog person complain about a dog, it's because the dog is allowed to poop on their lawn.  I try very hard not to let Argos poop on anyone's lawn, making him walk between me and that little strip of grass beside the road.  And of course no matter where he poops, I have a roll of little blue bags with which to clean up our mess.  I mean, do I really want someone's most lasting memory of a greyhound was that there was one that pooped on their lawn every morning?  Not exactly an impression that would drive someone to the nearest adoption group, even if it is somewhat irrational to blame the entire breed for the "sins" of one.  

2.  Empathize.  This is where I try to read people as we approach them.  Someone who is interested in Argos will light up when they see him, and usually be smiling and engaged before we even get within petting distance.  But not everyone does.  If someone looks closed, or hesitant, or especially scared, I make a point to shorten his leash, put him on my other side, and make it clear to the person that he's under my control and won't be in a position to bite.  Greyhounds are not known for being a vicious breed, of course, but not everyone knows their breeds - they just see a big dog!

3.  Be Friendly.  While I'm not the type to bound up to people and start conversations, I try to be friendly and approachable.  I've resolved to answer breed questions no matter what, even if it makes me run behind a bit.  Or to at least point them in the right direction.  

4.  Kids.  Children nearly always want to pet Argos, so if I see one of them pining for him, I always offer to let them pet him.  I can't count how many adults have warmed to Argos, and to greyhounds in general, when they see how gentle and friendly he is with their kids.  This is obviously something that you would have to decide for yourself and your dog, on a case-by-case basis.  I feel like I can do this with Argos, because he LOVES children.  I think, in general, he likes them better than he does adults.  Not every dog is comfortable with kids, so this would not be an approach that everyone would want to take.

And that's all I have so far.  I had dreams of a list of ten items, but I guess those four are what I tend to concern myself with on a daily basis.  Any others that you can think of?