Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dog's have literary preferences

You may find this hard to believe, but some dogs have a great interest in literature. Take Timmie, for instance. When he first came to the house I was engaged in a BA Mod at UCD, with English Lit as my preferred subject (major). In order to fully appreciate Chaucer, Spencer and so on you really have to read their work out loud, and try very hard to use the pronunciation that the lecturers tell you was used back in the day... if you don't, you won't find the rhythm that was intended. Anyhow this meant that I spent long evenings ensconsed in my bedroom far away from those in my family who considered me mad enough already, reading Canterbury Tales and The Faerie Queene out loud. And every evening, there was Timmie, all of 5 months old at the time, sitting with his nose on the other side of the book, entranced.......

Izzy also has a taste for literature. So far she has digested Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ante Room and Close Quarters. Literally.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

10 things about having multiple dogs: Part 3

It dawned on me today as I spent almost half an hour vacuming an area approximatley 10ft x 3 ft that really the value of having carpet decreases in an inverse proportion to the number of resident canines. Below are my estimates:

First of all we used only to have one dog at a time and for about eight years we had Tim, who is a long haired feathery furball, double coated collie - he tends to drop the soft fluffy under coat, which tends to gather in fluffy clumps along the skirting board or any wool or dark clothing it can get at. Lots of hair, but not that clingy. However, Timmie gets over this by having the endearing habit of very thoroughly rubbing himself sideways, nose first, tail last, along the couch, ensuring that any hair he drops is nicely embedded into the upholstery, followed by a procedure where he lies flat on his belly, and draws himself along the floor with his front paws while his back legs are stretched out behind him, which nicely embeds his superfluous white hair into the carpet. No mean feat for an old dog - if I'm that flexible when I'm in my early eighties (he is about that in dog years), I'll be laughing - or in a home for the bewildered. He also has a great interest in carefully re-arranging his bed in such a way that the stuffing comes out, and then distributing it artistically about the room.

When Tim was about 5 years old an executive decision was made to replace the carpet in downstairs reception rooms and replace with wood/laminate flooring.

Collie 1 : Carpet -1

Then Chloe arrived - black and white, smooth haired, you would think not much hair to drop, but oh boy, how wrong can you be. Chloe is blessed with 3 types of hair: a black, glossy topcoat, soft downy blackish red undercoat, and white points.

First there is the downy undercoat - the sneakiest most insidiuos dog hair I've ever encountered. It is really short, less than 1/4" long. When brushing her, it sticks to the hairbrush and comes out in solid clumps. When it gets near any fabric, it burrows into the weave and takes up permanent residence.

Chloe (or more correctly, whoever is cleaning up after her) suffers from a thing called "stress alopecia" (the vet gave me the nice technical name for this) Stress alopecia occurs when Chloe is wound up, excited or annoyed, what happens is she develops the supercanine ability to effectively squirt white hair in every direction, mainly in your face and onto any wool or dark clothing in the vicinity. Chloe is very excitable - at her last visit to the vet I went into the consulting room with a black velvet jacket (I'm an optimist) and came out with a white fun fur job.

Two years ago the carpet in the bedrooms came up and an executive decision was made to keep the nice natural wood floorboards exposed. But we thought it would be nice to keep the carpet on the hall, stairs and landing to reduce disturbance from footsteps clumping and paws clicking as the residents went about their business. And such a small amount of carpeting couldn't be too hard to maintain, right?

Collie 1 : Carpet -1
Collie plus smooth haired designer original 10 : Carpet -50

Then the arrival of #3 - Izzy, an Old English Sheepdog. All I'm going to say about the Dulux dog, running romantically through meadows and sitting perfectly in beautifully decorated rooms, is that advertising executives are clearly living in an alternate universe. Izzy is another multiple coat dog, long (almost six inches in places, coarse bluish grey hair which looks lovely when brushed (for about a nanosecond) the requisite soft downy undercoat that joins Tim's in random clumping sessions on the perimeters of the room, and the long silky (supposed to be) white head and leg hair. The thing is that Izzy has a penchant for taking mudbaths (or dustbaths, depending on the weather) and decorating herself with random twigs, straw, leafs and whatever other debris might be available. When it rains, she turns into a sort of monochrome rastafarian. All the additional material attached to her coat makes her itchy, so she likes to scratch her back and rump against the radiators, and, of course, the couch. She also has copious hair around her paws and between her pads, ideal for collecting mud, grass, moss and, on one memorable occasion, beetles. Izzy is an enthusiastic supporter of Tim's bed customising and has proved herself to be a star apprentice.

Collie 1 : Carpet -1
Collie plus smooth haired designer original 10 : Carpet -50
Collie plus smooth haired designer original plus Old English Sheepdog 1,000,000 : Carpet forget it...I'm going to have hall and landing tiled, any suggestions about what to do with the stairs?

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Chloe Archive

This is some stuff I wrote about Chloe a while back:

Chloe Part 1
Chloe Part 2
Chloe Part 3

All this from a previous venture into blogging that lasted about a week

Thursday, April 9, 2009

10 things about having multiple dogs: Part 2

Other dogs:
Are very interested when they see the canine convention out walking. Last night I looked down at the gang at the end of the lead and found an extra tail sticking up between the regular array of butts. We had been joined by a sawed-off collie who thought it was just brilliant to hang with the mob. He was just the right height to get in under all the legs. Try as I might I could not get him to depart. I accosted every person I saw on the street hoping they would recognise him and point out his home and was almost resigned to coming home with #4 when his mum came running out to retrieve him. Unfortunately he felt that it was far more fun to remain behind the furry barricade. Every time we tried to extract him my 3 thought it was only right to encircle the humans with leads and try to strangle them. Some time later 2 very dishevelled humans pried the refugee from the pile and staggered to their respective homes, completely knackered..

Monday, April 6, 2009

10 things about having multiple dogs: Part 1

  1. Feeding time:
    The image of the happy dogs scoffing the pet food enthusiastically is somewhat inaccurate. Tim the pensioner was a runt - hand reared, as he did not share feeding time with the rest of his litter, he never knew about this business of having to fight for the best teat or later the choicest ped food. Chloe the dieting dog has an eating disorder, she can't or won't stop. Izzy the new girl, according to her previous owner, didn't have much of an appetite, but she has developed a pretty good one since she arrived here. Tim likes to take his time and being a bit of a sleeveen, also likes to torture Chloe by waiting until she has finished before he starts. He likes to see her being admonished for taking his food. Chloe wolfs hers down and then tries to threaten Tim into backing off his meal. Izzy guzzles at a slightly more ladylike pace than Chloe, then sits right up against Tim and stares at his slowly diminishing rations. Chloe, worrying that the competition is going to get in ahead of her and launches an attack. Girls engage in a canine version of WWF smackdown, while Tim continues to nibble, completely unconcerned. See the earlier post on breakfast for more on this

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How hard life can be...

Chloe needs a lot of rest as she spends every day carefully practising what she tells me is an extremely complicated asana. Here she is demonstrating the position.
Posted by Picasa

Chocolate improves maths ability

Without chocolate my workplace would grind to a halt

read more | digg story

Dog owners DO look like their pets say psychologists

If this is true, then I am black and white / tricolour / grey and white, round with skinny legs and labrador ears, frilly with a long nose , and resemble a yeti or a mobile hearthrug, with a fantail and dorsal fins and the ability to bob about underwater for extended periods.

read more | digg story

Friday, April 3, 2009

Good morning dogs

Izzy wakes the human up at approximately 6:00 am every morning and demands to be conducted to the back door. Once Izzy is out and the human tries to go back to bed, Timmy decides now might be a good time to go outside and have a nice bark.. at this point the human thinks maybe Chloe could join her fellow committee members in the garden, but Chloe tends to feel it's more appropriate to hide under the bed and grumble. After a short interval where the human admonishes, grovels, begs, bribes and threatens, Chloe emerges, under protest and complains her way out to the back door.
While the committee busies itself with things canine in the back yard, including keeping up a running commentary on their activities with Keano next door, the human prepares 3 breakfasts...the big breakfast for the big girl, the medium breakfast for the medium boy, and the diet breakfast for the inappropriately big girl. During this interlude Izzy likes to decorate herself with amorphous pieces of garden, the grungier the better. Digging a new hole and adding another layer of mud to her moustache is a favourite beauty treatment. Timmy provides a running commentary on everything that is going on, while Chloe takes all the bones and squeaky things into custody.
Sounds of food preparation elicit demands to be re-admitted to the kitchen pronto! including threats from Izzy to come through the backdoor commando style. Timmy and Chloe feel the newcomer should take the heat for any damage that may occur, but are happy to provide assistance.
Once they have gained entrance the human deals out the breakfasts and the committee stares at whatever is put in front of them in distaste. The human is usually compelled to play a sort of "Find the Lady" game with the bowls and has learned the trick is always to put the food you intend Dog 1 to eat in front of Dog 3, Dog 2's in front of Dog 1 and so on. The human is then expected to sit and observe the committee eating and not move. If any movement occurs during the breakfast ceremony, the entire committee stops eating and follows the human. Chloe then moves in Timmy's breakfast, Izzy spots this and decides she wants it too, and Timmy gives up and goes for whatever crumbs are left in Chloe's bowl. During this procedure human is permitted to have coffee, as long as it is done quickly. The committee then surrounds the human with demands for samples of the human food.
After breakfast, the human proceeds to the living room to feed the fish. The committee accompanies, observes and comments. The female members ask for some of the fish food. Timmy looks on in disdain. The fish just come up to the surface and demand the damn food right now thank you very much.
After above procedure is complete the human is allowed to get dressed and ready for work. After committee inspection of the contents of handbag, human rescues shoes chosen for the day from Izzy, and attempts to leave the house with minium layer of dog hair.
Dogs proceed to chosen positions as illustrated in photograph. Departure of human may cause some half-wags and smug grunts. Human leaves house and wonders who exactly is the superior species.....