Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy 6th Gotcha Day for all of us

Six years ago today, we decided we'd take my mom downtown for a pint of beer. We were a couple of miles up the road and Steve said,"let's go see what puppies are in at the SPCA."

We did. And we brought home the baby Beast, formally known as 'Boscoe' and currently known as "Bugsy". Or Beastie, or Monkey, or MacGillicutty or Kramer or.....

We had a lot to learn, fortunately he is a great teacher, so we've got most of it down.

I've shared many escapades here and I can only assure you that the funny ones were actually a lot funnier.

Today I've been thinking about all the changes in our lives that are attributable to adding him to our family.

Any dog owner can tell you about the hair, toys, fluff, slobber, travel issues and various other 'negatives' of dog ownership. No doubt things are different, my home is not as neat and guests are greeted a little too exuberantly.

However, the changes I have been thinking about are the good ones; the ones that have put this goofy grin on my face.
He makes me laugh out loud at least once a day, usually many times a day.
His joy for life is contagious.
EVERYTHING is exciting.

I've learned so much about dogs: their behavior, abilities, communication methods and most importantly I've learned how to work with them to elicit their best.

It was Bugsy's mischievous nature that led me to a dog forum where I have made many friends, good friends, and where I learned which books to read and was able to debate the methods of working with him.

Bugsy's energy level has dictated that he is walked or run daily (twice daily when he was at his craziest) and this brings me to another wonderful thing he has done for us.

Having walked him daily for 6 yrs I've met pretty much everyone who ventures out for a walk around here. I am the lady with the big black dog. The other day I went out on my own and 4 people (2 in cars) stopped to ask if he was OK.

Through these walks and people wanting to meet Bugsy I've made great friends.
The friends we will celebrate Christmas and New Year's with, and birthdays and Thanksgiving and pretty much every holiday and some ad hoc gatherings too.

I could go on for a long time about all the wonderful things he has brought us and all the wonderful people who are in our lives now because of him but it would bore everyone to tears (some of you have probably already hit that mark).

He has been so much more than we expected: in size, energy, & mischief but more importantly in love and smiles.

Thanks Bugsy, I sure hope we have many more healthy, happy and insane years ahead!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Duke : take 2

We were very happy to have been selected to return to the Duke Canine Cognition Center, especially when we were assigned to the impulse control study. If you've met Bugsy you know he isn't a master of impulse control so we were sure it would prove interesting.
Today was the day and this is my attempt to write up what occurred. I must first say that Bugsy has been flat since the end of last week and although he seemed more chipper today he still was clearly not totally himself. This actually helped us out I think.
The handler only weighed 5lbs more than Bugsy and we all had a concern about this, although as I assured them he would, as soon as she asked him to work he was very focused on his task.

In the first task one tester was behind plexiglass panels. She had a treat. She called him in a very excited manner and once released he ran up to the screen and then around it. His time was just over 2 seconds.
No matter how they positioned the panels he quickly went around them to receive his treat.
One time he ran up to the panels, stuck his head in the gap and took the treat- this caught the person behind the screen by surprise,..... but not as much as when he then continued around the panel and kissed her.

Apparently many dogs take a bit to give up trying to get through the panels before going around them. The panels are see-through so dogs tend to not process why they can see the person but not get the treat.

Then there was a 2 minute break to settle down (and seemingly for them to get more organized).
Then they ran the same study however when they called him they did it with the flattest affect possible.
It was quiet funny to watch him, he clearly wasn't too sure (think furrowed brow and chin scratching, hmmm) but he went to her, around the panels and got the treat. I think his times were in the 5-7 second range.

I believe that they are allotted 30 seconds to complete the task so his times were quick.
More importantly to me he was very well behaved and focused.
He had caused some chaos on his way in and as we tried to discuss the process; it wasn't as ridiculous as last time but it still put a pit in my stomach that he wouldn't settle down.

Despite them being disorganized (enough so that I lost interest so I have no idea how Bugsy hung in there!!) we finished early and they asked if they could do another test with him.
Of course I said yes as it was clear Bugsy was still enjoying the tests and testers.......and treats!

In the second test some food was placed in a tupperware bowl which at first was not fully closed so he could bang it open and get the treat.
Then they fully closed it and it couldn't be opened.
The tub was placed in the middle of the room and the two testers were in different positions in the room; one looking forward and the other looking away from Bugsy.
They were monitoring what he would do once he realized he couldn't open it; who would he go to for help?

Of course this meant he had to first come to terms that he couldn't open it.
This took a bit of time but eventually he gave up and went over to the girl that had filled the tub and kissed her. He also went to the other girl and stared at her.
They did 8 different variations of this and in each case one or both testers got kissed.
He did give up sooner as the test went on and he started to pay less attention to the girl that did NOT fill the tub, and IMHO more importantly, she NEVER OPENED the tub and gave him access to the treats.
He did not seem bothered about the direction the testers were facing and I feel confident that he saw the one girl as the treat dispenser so that is who he went to for assistance.
On the 8th try he didn't even push the tub he just looked at each tester, quickly licked the 'chosen' one and collapsed in a heap in the middle of the floor. LOL

When we reunited I apologized for him quitting and they said he was the first dog to complete all 8 tries!! Yea Bugsy!!

Once again it was fun to watch, although this test felt less organized so a little less interesting to me. There also wasn't much wrap-up compared to last time and that was the best part for me.

Bugsy performed well and loved doing it. He'll remain in the database and be available for additional studies. Both of the students LOVED him and of course he ate that up.
I do think his energy was subnormal but it was plenty for what he was asked to do. Another fun experience for both of us!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Life does not pass Bugsy by, he makes the most of every moment.

After a week of monitoring the movements of a mole and a hawk that wanted the mole, he won the prize, capturing and killing the mole.

If you do everything at warp speed you can add more to your day

His philosophy is clearly never be thwarted by the wishes of humans, even if they say they don't want kisses, just kiss them. Barge your way in, keep your tongue licking, and distract them with much wiggling and various frenetic activity. Just when they think they've got you beat, you'll get a full tongue on their lips. It's worth any damage that occurs to your tail.

Lastly stuffed toys are for destroying. Sometimes you might keep them intact for a while but then you just destroy them. Because that IS why they exist.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Had a little flashback

When we brought Bugsy home at the tender age of 12-14 weeks old we didn't know much about puppies.
Day 2 we took him for a walk. I won't talk about the insanity of trying to leash him and keep him from running out every door. In fact I have to try to remember those days.
But I don't have to try and remember this silly pup that walked with his head & tail up, with this jaunty Lipanzaner-esque trot, in front of us at the very end of the leash. He didn't pull, he just used all the leash. :)
Our very first walk was 2 miles long. ( I giggle when I realize how ridiculous that was)
And he loved every step.
He didn't stop. Or look back at us, he just strutted at the end of his leash.
I remember laughing with my husband that he walked as if he was proud of the humans he had claimed.

Fast forward very nearly 6 yrs to this morning as we walked in a cold rain, and I wore a huge smile as I was still behind him, at the end of the leash, as he strutted with his head & tail high, and a spring in his jaunty, rhythmic step. Life is great when I am out walking!

It was as it always has been.

It was a powerful flashback and one that has a huge grin on my face as I write this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How things change

Saturday, in what has become a tradition, we took Bugsy to the Raleigh Christmas parade. Each year he shocks me with his ability to deal with the chaos, noise, and sights of the whole shindig. They estimate about 75,000 people were there this year and 110 different floats/groups in the actual parade.

He was literally swarmed by kids upon reaching the crowds. They hug, kiss and want to pose with him and he is truly happy to oblige. This year we had a particularly sweet interaction with a little toddler who he gave the gentlest and smallest kiss, twice. She then came back and offered him a rock and a leaf as a thank you treat. Even better I gently held his head so she could pet him without a giant tongue on her face and she decided to give him a teeny, gentle kiss on his ear. And then she did it again.
While this was happening he was in dense traffic and had an adult and 3 kids petting various parts of him and the matching band, color guard and horses were passing by.

It is to me extraordinary that any dog can deal with all of this.

The truly amazing part is that it is my sweet Bugsy, a dog who was well over a year before he could tolerate being pet, even by us. He is as non-cuddly as a dog can be. Only in the last 3-4 months will he allow me (and only me) to lie next to him on the floor. In the past he would either instigate play or get up and leave.
Every once in a while he'll curl up next to me and sometimes lay his head on my lap. Every time he does this I am reminded of that wild, feral pup who you literally could not touch or hold.

Because he has always been difficult to touch. I find these interactions at the parade and other events so heart-warming.
Because he has also always been too easy to overstimulate, I am stunned when in the midst of this outrageous environment, he's calm and happy, soaking up and doling out all the love he can.

It thrills me to think he has learned how nice snuggling can be and how wonderful being touched and pet is.
It also thrills me that he can enjoy the children and others at parades and events now and that they get to meet the Bugsy I know.

Now if we could figure out how to get him there without having to be at a parade LOL.

Friday, November 18, 2011

this really made me laugh

Bugsy has three regular drinking water spots: his inside water bowl, an outside water bowl, and when we installed a bubbling fountain that became his bird flavored water bowl :).
Here he is trying it upon installation

We have no idea why but he will often want a drink and look at his inside water and then ring his bell to go out. By doing this he has trained us so we realize that he asks out solely to have a drink.

Which brings me to the reason for this entry. This morning it was 26*. The fountain was frozen over, but Beastie asked out and we let him. I walked back to the sofa and saw him with his foot in the fountain - testing the ice I suspect.
I grabbed my phone and proceeded to capture this:

I don't know about you but I find that funny. I can't believe that he likes bird poop flavored water that much, but I guess he does!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

He loves a party!

Earlier this evening we attended a party called,"Down at the Tracks" . This is an annual event organized by our SPCA that takes place at an outdoor shopping area and has live bands, lots of fun vendors, food trucks and wonderful beer that is free with admission.
True to form Bugsy sniffed every dog butt he could.....and that was a lot.
He ate as many treats as he could, knocked over two beers (attempting to drink the second one), had an impromptu training session which was beyond comical, got loving from teeny little girls and many other humans, kissing each whether they liked it or not, and even settled on a patch of grass for a few minutes.
Unsurprisingly after nearly 2 hours of Bugsy style partying aka chaos, he is now completely zonked out, snoring and emitting putrid gas, the result of too much variety in his intake.
I am always amazed at these events, so many dogs of all ages & sizes and there never seems to be a problem. I am impressed by the attitude of small dog owners who seem relaxed and not worried about interactions with large dogs. So often owners of small dogs seem to fear large dogs.
I find myself giggling as Bugsy sticks his nose in the butt of a 200lb great dane and laugh when the owners of two placid bloodhounds say that Bugsy will be less excitable when he gets older, they seem shocked when I tell them he is six, their two are 5 & 7.
He is so ridiculously happy in these settings. He is hard to manage due to his excitability but it's always worth it. And no doubt it is better that he loves being social than if it was stressful.
Luckily he can sleep it off now. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Totally biased

But I really love my boy. He truly puts a huge smile on my face and I find myself wondering how I got so lucky to have him in my life.
Yes he is not the easiest dog but in some ways he is easy.
For instance, this morning a young pup came to play with him. She is at best 10 lbs and I have no fear he'll step on her or snap at her. He play bowed and was ever so gentle even though she is WILD he remains controlled.
Or consider his gentle taking of treats
Or that he has always had a predilection for lying down on a square so if there is a towel or blanket or bed, he's on it
He's happy. 24/7 happy. Greets each day as if he knows he's lucky to be alive.
Spins in circles every day when you dress to take him for a walk
And greets your every entrance so enthusiastically you can't help but be happy to be home.
Continuing my bias, he's so handsome, athletic, and sleek. I admit I look at him in awe.
I have for years wanted to add another dog to our home, yet I sometimes realize that this one takes a lot of effort.
Bugsy you are worth the sacrifices.......and much much more

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why can't he.......

Understand what 'later', 'tomorrow' mean?
Is it so difficult for a dog that somehow knows it's a Sunday and it's 8 am so he needs to go look out the window because his friend is coming, to get these simple concepts?
I am guilty of talking to him regularly so he understands more English than I planned on him knowing, which means we have to spell things fairly often or risk setting off his adrenal glands and dealing with the consequences, but he sure doesn't know what 'later' or 'tomorrow' mean!
For instance he was really up my butt earlier, clearly wishing I would DO something with him ( he had an enforced rest day so had only a 1.5 mile walk this morning) so I said, "I promise tomorrow we'll have a really long walk".
All he heard was WALK!
Try telling him that he'll go in the car later and watch the spinning begin
It's kind of fascinating because he picks up so many unintentional cues and pieces them together and draws a conclusion about what I am doing next that I am surprised that he hears "walk tomorrow" and acts like it will happen immediately. He knows the sequence of events leading up to a walk and one would think that the word 'walk' without the other cues wouldn't have so much meaning to him, but it does.
Somehow I am going to work on teaching 'later' and 'tomorrow'. I am not overly hopeful of success but seeing that he has learned so much of the language on is own I figure it's worth a try.
Hmmmm not sure how to even start though

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just one of those times

We arrived at the beach earlier today for a long weekend, a long damp weekend. Looks like storms will be on and off at least through Sunday, fortunately Bugsy isn't worried about getting wet.
About 7 this evening I took him down to the beach. The sun was thinking about setting and had emerged from behind some clouds. The sky was shades of orange bleeding to purple. The wind was blowing and it was raining lightly.
The beach was empty for as far as the eye could see.
I unclipped his line and set him free. He ran and played, splashing in the active sea and zooming around me.
Pure joy
Just a great moment with my crazy beast that I'll remember forever.
The joy, the lighting, the smells of the sea.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to eat a lamb's bUGsy

I brought home a bag of lamb's ears - he's never had one before.
He sat patiently staring into my eyes as I opened the bag.
He sniffed the 'new food item' and looked at me as if to say," Good God woman these are from baby sheep!"
A little more scrutiny by Bugsy and then he ran off with it to the living room.
I'll let him explain the rest................

Expel it from your mouth and move away from it.
Crouch down and stare at the wacky humans that gave it to you, keep tail wagging while doing this
If your humans walk toward your lamb's ear, run and get it (this is very important if they have a "ziploc bag")
Then dance with it in your mouth
Expel it and go several feet away from it
Get it again and put it as close to your nose as you can but don't let it touch
Talk to it
Playbow, see if it does something
Nope not moving
Pick it up and dance again, whimpering as you dance
expel it (note humans laughing at you and rolling their eyes)
Look at it very carefully
Dance with it one more time, then go ahead and eat it in less than 30 seconds.
Lick your lips.
Roll on your back
Go drink the entire contents of your water bowl
Check cupboard to make sure there really is a whole bag of these yummy treats.

The end.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feeling groovy

When Bugsy was a young pup we were charged by two large off leash German shepherds. I & my husband were frightened and prepared to fend off the dogs. Bugsy just stood there calmly as they ran toward us aggressively barking and meaning business. The hair on the back of my neck was raised and I feared for my puppy. Bugsy stood there, head up looking right at them, tail in his normal slightly raised position.
He didn't cower, roll over, bark, or any other fear or defensive move. He just stood there. The two dogs lost steam upon arrival. They sniffed him, he sniffed them and off they went. We humans were shaken, we watched carefully as the dogs sniffed each other, having difficulty in understanding our puppy seemingly fearless upon being charged by two large and unpleasant dogs and the fact they pulled up and didn't attack him.
This was the first and most remarkable incident we had with him and unpleasant dogs but we often found ourselves amazed at his disinterest in the three very noisy schnauzers we passed daily, or the border collie that wouldn't stop trying to hump him, or the bc mix that bit his neck pulling out fur or any of the other unpleasant dogs we met in our wanderings. He never cared. He never retaliated he just stayed happy and in human terms seemed to ignore them.
Things changed when at about 3.5 yrs old an aggressive dog in our neighborhood, with irresponsible owners, got a bit too close to making contact with us. The third time it did it Bugsy responded. He responded with an aggression that was beyond anything I thought he was capable of; he seemed to have either a non- response or a very serious response.
Very shaken and confused we headed home.
Thus began a journey. A journey to recover MY Bugsy.
After this incident he became a reactive dog. And he was darn serious and at 105lbs of muscle I was no match for him.
I'll skip the blow by blow and just say I shed tears, read furiously, studied his behavior, tried every technique I felt appropriate and I prayed.
I also just kept walking him.
A while back I started to notice improvement. There were still times I managed him in order to prevent an opportunity to react but he was more easily managed. He became extra alert but did nothing more. And he just kept improving.
Saturday we were out walking and we were charged by a golden, a dog known to have harmed two other dog's I know. As if in an instant replay from that day over 5 yrs ago he just stood there. Looking right at the charging dog, confident but not aggressive body language and once again the situation was diffused.
As my heartrate slowed and we made our way home I was less shocked by Bugsy's behavior compared to puppy Bugsy but I was more impressed. Slowly I realized my prayers had been answered, MY Bugsy was back.
As if to reinforce this we met a crazy young BC the other morning who stalked and then pounced on Bugsy and snarled and was generally unpleasant. Bugsy ignored him.
So my Bugsy is back.
I'll never not watch his interactions with new dogs again (as I did pre-reactivity) but I feel this tremendous peace and happiness that we have made it full circle. It has taken 2.5 yrs but we've made it.
Thank you Bugsy, I sure do love you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I think we have an agreement or perhaps I'm a failure ;)

For the first few years of Bugsy's life my husband and I were determined that he would walk next to us and not sniff the entire time. And by golly he'd walk at our pace.
We tried all sorts of training methods and tools with very limited effect.
Quite honestly it felt like a daily battle.
Then somewhere along the way I changed my goal. All I wanted was that he didn't put any tension on the leash.
With the change in my goal we started making more progress.
Then as he rehabbed from his TPLO I allowed him to set the pace; I kept him slow on inclines and descents but on the flat I let him set the pace as long as the gait was balanced.
What I realize now is that I have maintained this agreement and that it works for both of us.
He gets to sniff - although at times he hears "let's go" and he moves on (he's more of a tracking sniffer than a stop in one spot and sniff sort of guy)
but he doesn't get to pull on the leash.

I also allow him to set the pace - so he is in front and I don't care. I am happy to be able to see what he is doing and not have a 105lb dog underfoot. If I say "here" he needs to come to me pronto and he does.

As for fast or slow or in between pace - he's a fast moving sort of guy but he doesn't all out sprint (unless attached to a bike) so it's great for me to have to jog and I am a fast walker so the trot works too.
He so rarely walks slowly that if he is, it is either super hot or he isn't well. In both of those cases it is better we go slow so no big deal.

So there you have it - I let my dog - who is out in front of me - sniff/track/ and set the pace on our daily jaunts.
In doing so I have replaced the battle with a positive experience for both of us.
If this indicates I have failed as a dog trainer than so be it - works for me and it works for Bugsy

Friday, September 2, 2011

Breaking news.... the Beast is SIX!

We don't know his real birth date so we picked the 1st of September in honor of a good friend's mom who lived to 101 and was an amazing woman. We hoped she would guide our nutty boy from above :)
What I didn't realize is that the first of September is also the first day of Canada Goose season in North Carolina; now that couldn't be more appropriate.

It's hard to accept that due to his size he is now considered a senior, especially when he's running around like a fool and continues to get into puppy mischief, but he is. This makes me a bit sad but I refuse to age him mentally if he refuses to age physically!

When I sat down to consider the last year I was amazed at all the fun he has in his life and what a wonderful existence he has. This year is the first year that he lost some friends who went to the Bridge, it was also a year of puppies as he has 5 new puppy friends just this year!
He traveled to new places, met new people and carried on the like the fool he is.
Here is a little slide show I made of his year:

That doesn't show the captions but I believe if you click on it you'll go to the main site.

Yesterday to celebrate his day I made him a lovely cupcake and then later we played some fetch with his pheasant wing dummy. Those pics are here:

sorry for being lazy and just linking but I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Bugsy let's make it an even better year!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Never enough time

As I head off to bed I am thinking about my neighbors and good friends who are going to bed tonight wondering if today was their dog's last day on earth. Their gorgeous, oversized, sweet and gentle, Golden Retriever Cody has declined rapidly in the last month. Tomorrow he goes off to the vet school for a second visit to see what if anything can help him. But I think everyone knows it is a visit that potentially becomes the visit when dear sweet Cody will be helped to cross the Bridge.
Another friend had to put their very young sweet boy to sleep this week after learning he had late stage cancer.
Another friend helped their young Boxer cross the Bridge earlier this summer.
As I peer over and see Bugsy curled into a tight ball breathing heavily with sleep, I am reminded of how short their lives are, how little we know about how they feel, and how deeply we love them.
We had our own scare this summer and as Bugs struggles to fully regain his health I have questioned whether he is truly ok or not. My mind wanders to thoughts of how huge a part of my life he is; our routines, the laughs, the mischief, the angelic sleep (really) and the intense love. I consider the ways in which he has changed our lives, the things he has taught us, and why God decided he was the dog for us.
I worry that I take his being here for granted but with so many people I know having their faithful, loving companions cross the Bridge recently, I take care to appreciate my crazy boy.
Regardless of how long we have our furry babies, it is too short.
My heart and prayers are with my friends this evening, and with all who have lost their pets and especially with those who are contemplating how they will know it is time.
I wish you strength and courage to make the decision that is in your fur babies best interest, it is the last loving thing you do for them on this earth.

Monday, August 1, 2011

when did he develop self control?

We are having work done in the house, significant work, week two of various workmen coming in and out all day long.
Bugsy's behavior has been exemplar. I can hardly believe it LOL
He just hangs out in our TV room behind the baby gate and watches them go in and out of our bedroom at the other end of the hall.
At lunchtime I grab a leash and leash walk him down the stairs (that are covered in plastic) and into the kitchen. At that point I can drop the leash and he just hangs out with me as the men continue to go in and out the front door & work in the driveway. It's open plan so he could go say hi but if I see him consider it I just say no.
"OK Mom"
Whose dog is this?
By evening time he's more apt to need close monitoring as he really, really wants to say hi and only the contractor feels comfortable with the beast. Tonight he did pop up when today's main worker entered the front door and I had to say NO really quickly. The guy looked terrified, meanwhile Bugsy's tail was wagging and he had a mouthful of three rubber bones.
Anyway he's being super cooperative and well behaved and the self-control he is exhibiting is beyond any previous display.
I suppose many of you own dogs with a good level of self control but it isn't one of Bug's strengths.
I'm so pleased with him.
He even left a box turtle alone yesterday when I asked him to.
Always full of surprises :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"I knew I wasn't sick" claims Bugsy

So after 10 days of a wild emotional ride, the lump that was removed was a pseudo-tumor.
The belief is that he had a focal trauma to the tuber ischii and an inflammatory response set off the process that created this 'very good at pretending to be cancer' tumor.
The vets were stunned as they felt that from what they saw during surgery and the characteristics of the tumor that this was going to be exceptionally bad news.

I cried. I sobbed. I screamed. And I laughed as Beastie just kept zooming.
Despite three layers of sutures including a dozen or so staples in his butt he really didn't seem to care, he just wanted life as normal.

Why aren't we going for a walk? How come no swimming? I miss my buddies!

My husband and I talked about what we would do if the worst case scenario played out.
For 8 of the 10 days I felt captive.
I was waiting to find out if my boy was in danger and if so how much.
I focused on the wound site and giving meds.
I photographed him and video'd him. If he was leaving me soon I needed documentation of my gorgeous, playful, nutty beast.
And then nearly a week after the surgery I had had enough waiting. I picked up the phone and called to find out what was happening.
Unfortunately my bravery went unrewarded as they didn't know anything yet.
But something important happened as instead of being a passive spectator I took charge of my and his destiny. Emotionally I was ready for whatever we were to find out.
But then the call came and it was this psuedo- tumor.
Pure craziness!
I admit that part of me wonders if it can really be true.
We are still trying to get the wound to close for good and the anti-biotics hit his GI system hard, so we are still working our way to pre-surgical health.
I sure hope that once we do achieve the above, it is the last of it. I realize that it is a bizarre diagnosis and we truly dodged a bullet. I am tremendously thankful.
Even if part of me still wonders.
Bugsy is a special dog, not just because he is mine. The outpouring of affection was incredible and I am sure that God was listening.
Thank you God, I love the silly Beast.....and so do many others!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

pfft what do humans know

if he could talk I am sure that is what Bugsy has been trying to tell me

Its been a tough week around here - Steve & I have been shocked and saddened to accept the events of the last week. The outpouring from our friends, family and neighbors (to whom I am know as the lady with the big black dog or as Bugsy's mom) has been incredible.
Everyone is doing their best to remain positive but sadness has prevailed along with concerns that his health is poor.

Well except with Busgy.
He's the happy, loving, excitable, hunting goofball that he always is.
Last night a favorite human stopped by, good Lord you would think he was Bugsy's long lost twin. The excitement was off the Richter scale.

This morning he woke me up by shoving the carcass of a stuffed goose in my face at 5:30. He was ready to start the day and start it now!!
We went downstairs and he grabbed a couple of rubber bones and a kong to go with the goose carcass and was wiggling and waggling and then launched into his morning routine of stretching, somersaults and rolling.

"It's a new day! it's a new day, it's a new day!!! woohoo!!!!!!!!"

And then it happened...........I should have known it was coming.........

LOL he went outside to take care of business and came flying onto the deck and through the doggie door into the porch at warp speed. Clearly he had been running like a nut for a while because he was smiling and his chest was heaving.

"I am soooooooooooo happy mom!!!!"

I decided that a short walk was appropriate so we just did a half mile and then he helped me in the yard for a few minutes. Then I said, "come on big guy, let's go in"
and it happened again


As I tried to wipe the smile off my face I looked at him in all his exuberance and joyfulness and thought, "you know, may be he knows more than we do"

With all our brain power, dot-connecting, reading, and surmising we make conclusions based on 'facts'. We worry and hope, we get sad.

Bugsy however just carries on - the sutures and staples and intestinal upset aren't even noticed - "I feel good! Ain't life grand? Wanna play?"

OK Bugsy at least for today, I will not look at you and think OMG he might be sick. Today you are my Bugsy, as nutty and healthy as ever.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm not ready to hear yet

Good golly just back from the vet (to check on the wound) and the vet asked if I'd heard anything, um no, so he went off to check the computer.
I nearly fainted...................Really

I looked at Beastie staring back up to me, waiting for me to declare what our next adventure would be and thought all over again. No way no how he is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too alive.
They didn't have the report yet. Thank God.
I mean I know its coming but I wasn't ready.

All day yesterday Bugsy was well Bugsy. Over here, over there, chased a crow, sniffed around, realized that he just had to ask out to pee and he'd get an opportunity to see what was happening, played with toys, ran up and down the stairs, begged for steak, stole a Q tip from somewhere clearly thinking it was valuable, etc.

The anti-biotics are causing much intestinal upset so when he woke me at 5 I took him out, apparently that is a good time to hunt possum, sigh.

This is Bugsy, he is ALIVE!
The twinkle in his eye is certifiable trouble of the belly laugh kind.

I am sorry but he is just way too alive to be sick.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

he's a healing machine!

No one has told Bugsy that he's sick and healing, after resting some yesterday and finally remembering that drinking water is good he started to revive in the afternoon.
By yesterday evening he was stealing kitchen towels and taunting us with them, ringing his bell to go out in an attempt to join me as I watered various plants in the garden (He is usually my "helper" for these tasks)and playing with a toy goose.

This morning he went out with me for the paper and saw one of his smallest buddies, gave the owner a kiss, wandered the cul de sac, then searched our yard for critter activity, drank from the water fountain and finally brought the paper in.
25 minutes of wandering with not even a hitch in his step.
After eating only half his breakfast he wanted out again and had his first post-op poop, complete with full kick-backs, presumably declaring "I'm back"

No weeping from the wound even after all this activity which is wonderful.

As I sat down to check emails he came over to me laid down and then rolled on his back begging for belly rubs.
Yes sir I will rub that belly! Silly boy fell asleep like that but then heard something popped up and off he went.

A healing machine I tell you with the toughest constitution imaginable!
Go Bugsy!!
But let's rest again today bud

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

how to process all this

So he's home, sans a lump, but with three layers of sutures. The tumor was deeply embedded and difficult to remove. If the margins aren't clear he'll have to have surgery at NC State vet school (thank goodness we are so close to a wonderful resource).
But I have to confess now that he's home and I look into his groggy eyes I can't swallow it all.
Bugsy has cancer.
Bugsy who is ever happy, every active and more full of life than any living creature I have ever been witness to, has cancer.
I think I keep typing that to try to convince myself
Bugsy with the chiseled muscle body
Bugsy whose coat shines like no other
Bugsy whose power is just ridiculous
Bugsy whose energy never seems to wain

How could it not be visible in pictures I took on 7/10 and the size of a ping pong ball on 7/15?

How could it not be mast cell?

How could it be so deep and tangled in his body?

How can my world change so swiftly?

We picked him up and he dragged the vet tech to me even though his legs weren't ready yet so they splayed in 4 directions.

Then he ran past everyone in the lobby and straight to the car and up the ramp as if nothing was wrong

Once home he wanted some dinner and some comfort.

He wandered outside, swiftly going into hunt mode and deciphering who had visited in his absence.

My Bugsy has cancer???

The ruler of the neighborhood? The dog who has more buddies than any dog I know?

He's not yet 6 and there isn't a gray hair on him. He's lost a step to a TPLO but not much more. He is not exhausted by swimming well over a thousand yards or 5 mile hikes and days of play at the beach.
He wiggles his butt and wags his tail like a pup and has never lost the tremendous drive for mischief usually associated with pups.

But they age him at mid-50's in human years. Still too young to reach the end.

If you are reading this and made it this far - kiss your dog, smooth your hands over their body, and vow to allow them to sniff to their hearts content on tomorrow's walk. Their lives are short.

I fear way too short for Mr Bugs.

Monday, July 18, 2011

everyone has a breaking point

and I'm experiencing it right now.
Last Friday I noticed a pronounced lump on Bugsy's hind quarter. I thought it was a bite or sting but he didn't seem to even know it was there. Off to the vet.
We left with no answers but a suspected mast cell tumor
We gave benadryl all weekend and saw no change so off to the vet this morning.
After a blood draw and fine needle aspirate it appears to be a soft tissue sarcoma
He'll have it removed tomorrow and off to the lab to determine what we are dealing with

I did a little reading on STS (soft tissue sarcoma) and we need all your best vibes, prayers and thoughts. It can be a straight forward thing or a very messy thing.

My life has had a ton of stress over the last few years and the Beast with all the insanity and rotator cuff-tearing hunting has been my savior.
He's been a guaranteed smile.
Oh heck he is a guaranteed LOL
He is the GRAND diversion from all that ails you

when his amber eyes lock on to yours you know some serious fun lay ahead

when the tail wags a certain way he's plotting some mischief and is clearly a step ahead of you

and then there are the moments when he looks at you with such unadulterated joy and his special brand of adoration that no matter what real life holds, in that moment, life is good.

Bugsy transports you to that place where life is only good

Everyone needs that from time to time and I have been lucky enough to have him do that for me daily. He's spoiled me and I have come to expect those moments and need those moments.

Bugsy this has to be something that can be fixed, simply and finally.
Your mama needs you.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dear foxy,

Please for the love of God will you never again run towards the beast!
I know you panicked and wanted to head to your den but really getting to within 12ft or so of a beast that is 3+ times larger than you and who very much wants to kill you is just flat out stupid.
And in making this dare devil move you made my life very difficult and extended my walk more than I really had time for.
So, from here on out, use your nose, if you smell the beast move AWAY from him, if you see the beast, he sees you too, and it is recommended you hightail it in the opposite direction and into thick woods.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Multi-tasking in the morning

Bugsy's version anyway.
At 4:30am I was awoken by the dulcet sounds of a gacking, soon-to-be vomiting dog.
I ran downstairs and let him out just slightly too late so I cleaned up the tiny bit that he got on the rug.
I then flipped on all the outside lights, grabbed a flashlight and went out to find him.
Well...... I didn't have to look long. He was flying around the yard HOT on the trail of something.
HOT on the trail and remained so for about 30 minutes.
He covered every corner, shrub, blade of grass with great vigor. Stopping at certain points to look up and try to see the offending critter.
Oh and he briefly stopped to poop and pee but mostly he charged around the acre as if launched.
I was really hoping to just get back to bed but no chance of catching him or calling him off when he is like this, so I waited until he came back to earth a bit and in we went.
So vomiting, pooping and peeing while hunting. That is quite a display of multi-tasking.

When we got up at 6am he immediately went back to psycho hunting mode, found a small box turtle in deep shrubs, and went berserk on that, he even barked at it. Just been out again 7:20am and he of course went right back to hunting, I heard another bark and found him trying to get even deeper into the shrubs where the turtle was. Thankfully he was struggling to get his big body in there!
He's in now and staying in.
I'm exhausted!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

sublime to ridiculous

Bugsy was all serious business this morning hot on the scent of fox.
Very hot on the scent of fox.

He is an impressive beast when he works like that, just saying I don't want to be the fox or any other creature on the wrong side of that intensity.

But then it happened.............

a sprinkler popped up and started spraying water

bwa ha ha ha

apparently the only thing more frightening is a snake skin.

He went flying out of range plus 10 feet, with the wariest face on, completely forgetting about the fox.

No worries though, immediately past the sprinkler range he went right back to Mr Serious.

Completely ridiculous

Sunday, June 19, 2011

If you are wearing a tux

You might as well live up to it :)
Lots of people have commented over the years about Bugsy's coat looking like he is wearing a tux.
I've played this up at times, buying him a white collar, having him wear a bowtie on Halloween; just fun stuff.
We've heard James Bond jokes and jokes about going to the prom. When he was a pup, the children of the home which owned his girlfriend Bella, staged a wedding for them; he wore his tux.
Honestly I've never thought it looked much like a tux but we hear it so often its grown on me.
Well anyway the thing is whether it looks like one or not he often lives up to the image of a tux-wearing gentleman.
He takes a treat ever so gently.
He is fairly prissy and rarely dirty.
He'll refuse to lie down on a dirty surface.
He's fussy about the water he drinks and the places he poops.
But most of all he is a gentleman with all his friends.
Just this Sunday his friend Izzy was here. Izzy doesn't like to share and I had thrown out a ice treat for them to chew on to cool off. Izzy took it over, and sweet Bugsy just laid there with a big smile on his face, watching her tuck into the treat.
He was calm and content and smiling away in a very relaxed pose.
We all smiled.
Way back in the puppy days with Bella he used to let her have his bone or stick or treat. She'd wind up with two bones and he would just watch her.
If he wants it there is no snarling or conflict he just takes it, but by and large he doesn't.
He wants to share his toys and his water bowl and everything he has.
The more the merrier.
Bugsy the gentleman and for that I am appreciative
Does it look like a tux to you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All day, every day

From the moment he gets up to the moment he signs off every evening Bugsy is on. He hunts whatever he can hunt. Vigorously tracking who visited his yard overnight and then throughout the neighborhood too.
He looks for friends, intruders, cars he knows, the mail lady, UPS, hawks, anything that moves through the cul de sac. Should someone enter the drive the frantic search for something to bring them begins; a shoe, a kong, the newspaper, anything in reach. His body wiggling with so much gusto it is hard to imagine.
Late afternoon or early evening the hunt is on again, this time there is an intent to find a rabbit.
In a way it's always the same yet it is always different.
Today was a good day, chasing crows, attempting to chase fox, walking with a pretty lab pup, cars stopping to say hi, fun in his pool, chasing deer, meeting a workman, playing with the cocker pup, chasing a rabbit, plenty of tracking, surveying and some treat ball fun.
Finally flopping on a bed in front of a rare open window in June.
That's all for today, just wait until tomorrow I'm going to catch something, I just know it.

Now if I just knew what you were dreaming about as I watch your feet going, face contorting and odd sounds emanating from you.
Goodnight Bugsy, sleep well bud.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

diagnosis: he has a mind of his own :)

LOL well it doesn't seem to matter where we go Bugsy always, as someone so eloquently put it, always makes an impression.
Today these moments all added to the surgeon's diagnosis:
He excitedly entered(understatement) the waiting area, it amazes me that despite having been here before for surgery he loves everyone and his tail is wagging as he tries to explore each nook and cranny.
Then while outside trying to gait for the doctor he was much more interested in the smells. Not gentle sniffing mind you full on bloodhound-esque tracking. I had to keep taking hold of his collar and try to guide him in the direction I needed him to go. Each time he'd look at me like oh hey what you doing here, sigh.
Then the coup de gras; he discovered something interesting behind one of those big heavy outdoor garbage cans (the ones outside strip malls with the sandy cigarette trays on top)and proceeded to knock it over. The doc and I flinched but not the beast, I could sum up his reaction as 'oh'
Then inside the surgeon took him off for xrays, I literally said good luck with that. After a while I heard heavy sniffing and then the door blew open and it was Bugsy with the 6'3" surgeon in tow.
Lastly we went to the exam room and we left Bugsy in there for a few minutes so we could look at his previous xrays. The doc asked if Bugsy would be OK in there, um sure although he might open the door. Minutes later we heard the door handle rattling so decided to hurry back in to see him.
At that point the diagnosis was sealed
ha ha ha - yup he definitely has a mind of his own.

Now more seriously - his knee is OK for now, it might have had some fluid in it but only a touch, his shoulder joints look excellent but there is some muscular issues on both sides, and sadly the arthritis in his lower back is getting worse.
There isn't much more we can do for him, however we are going to try using Rimadyl every other day or every third day for two weeks and see how much difference that makes.

One last funny - well at least to me was this in his report from the doc:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Tomorrow morning I will take my happy, crazy boy to the orthopedic surgeon to have his 'good' knee x-rayed.
I know something is bothering him, but I don't know what. So am I hoping it's his knee or do I hope it's fine?
You know, I don't know.
If it's the knee we schedule the tplo and prepare for 8 weeks of hell and another 8 weeks of slow progress. So goodbye summer 2011.

I'll find it hard to take him away from all his buddies, he has a whole new slew of puppies this year and oh how he loves his puppies. They'll be no swimming or bird work or scent work. No neighborhood walks, no downtown patios. No Izzy. No sleeping in our bedroom, no crow chasing, etc.
Sure it is only for 3-4 months (it was 9 months to get back to normal) but going through it twice, sigh.

If it isn't his knee? I can only hope it is easily found and easily treated.
Although he isn't limping he has had this front end lameness on and off, and has signs of pain fairly regularly so it needs to happen.

And so it will

Friday, June 3, 2011

whew it was busy out there

I was a gorgeous morning, the humidity finally dropped and there was a nice breeze. I was looking forward to a peaceful wander through our park-like neighborhood.

Why I think this will ever happen I am not sure

About 100 yds up from our drive Bugsy spotted his girlfriend Izzy, this meant we had to run up to the top of the road to meet her (about 1/4 mile). They immediately broke out into play - now Bugsy usually refuses to play while on leash, ages ago he decided leash= business. So the instant rumble caught me off guard, once we calmed them down we ambled along until something of high interest caught Bugsy's nose and he went diving into a culvert.
He has been very good of late but whatever this was he wasn't too interested in moving on. But we got the message through to him and were able to keep moving.

Izzy headed back home and we kept on moving towards the lake - our hopeful destination.

He was clearly following a scent but it was his normal stuff so I had relaxed again.
I looked up and saw a woman with two dogs, both of which were agitated. Once Bugsy saw them he got agitated,....great.
I spoke to the woman from a distance and said I would wait for them to turn up the road as he seemed worked up - she said, "sorry my two are going nuts we just passed the fox." Great.
The fox was curled up sleeping about 15 yards from the road surface. So I debated - go forward or go the other way?
We'll trot forward and quickly pass the fox - I saw it but dummy's head was down sniffing away so he didn't.

We came around a curve and there was a dog we know to be aggressive/leash reactive.

Great let's turn around and run by the fox again, sigh.

So we did, but this time Mr B 'noticed' sleepy fox. Sigh.

At this point I am bemoaning the detours but still thinking its a lovely day.

I'll make the rest of this short - the rest of our walk included mole hunting, rabbit hunting, turtle spotting and moving, and a snakeskin.
So we met 4 dogs, a fox, a turtle, two rabbits, umpteen squirrels, saw hawks and songbirds and a snakeskin.

I suppose there were moments of peacefulness and that is OK. The morning was still a good one and at this point I do know what to expect when we head down the drive. We'll never just sashay, it's business for Bugsy, things must be investigated, greetings made, critters hunted.
And that is just the way it is.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My new bubbling water bowl

Ah life with Bugsy. We have been putting in a patio and today we put in a bubbling fountain. After spending all day listening to the workers, upon being let out he immediately checked out the new rock area and fountains. Since it was 97-98 degrees the rock was extremely hot.
This didn't phase the beast, he slipped and carefully plotted his way to the water.
He sniffed and then drank from the fountain.
And drank and drank and drank.
I thought we would have to refill the basin first time out.
He quite clearly was pleased with this new water source, sigh.
Then he decided that the driftwood was ripe for chewing so he dragged one off the rocks and gnawed away.
DH wasn't impressed with this so went over and took the wood off him and tossed it back to the rocks.
Bugsy stayed in a comfy position until DH turned to head back to the bench. At the moment DH turned, Bugsy got up and got the wood again and laid down to chew it.
This cycle repeated several times with Bugsy's tail wagging more furiously with each intently disobedient move.
There was nothing we could do but laugh.
At some point he was done with the wood (the good part was just taking it when Dad would say no) he went over and had another 5 minute drink from the fountain.
Ah well it's good that we can all enjoy it

Monday, May 30, 2011

Such a ridiculous dog

We had some friends over tonight to celebrate my birthday. These are people that Bugsy loves, really loves. This means he is ultra chaotic when they visit or if he goes there.
Tonight in the less than 3 hrs they were here, he received lots of treats for behaving, if he relaxes away from the action and food we usually give him teeny rewards for doing so and to keep him in that position. I bet he had a dozen almonds and cashews, several tortilla chips, little snippets of ribs, cheese, and half a sweet potato. He also devoured a 12 inch rawhide retriever, several treats from in a kong, and the coup de gras; a large chunk of microfiber towel.
He was doing his infamous steal the kitchen towel trick, dropping one only to grab the other and finally grabbed his 'slobber' towel. So we laughed and said whatever. But then I looked over and thought crap he has it in pieces. On closer inspection he had eaten a fairly large chunk of it.
After they left he proceeded to attempt to drink the contents of his kiddie pool, apparently he'd built up a thirst.
So please spare a 'hoping it all passes through unimpeded' thought for the idiot.

BTW we don't feed him like this usually as it clearly isn't healthy for him or any other dog, it was purely to reduce the amount of chaos, which it did.
Which is a bit scary :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Add fox to the list

right up near the top.

Top of what list you may ask?
The top of the 'animals that incite' Bugsy list.
It appears to be in the goose & cat range, thinking that goose probably still reigns at the top with cat & fox tied for a very close second.

How did I discover this?
We had a fox come out of someone's yard and cross in front of us - about 20 yds in front of us. It wasn't pretty.
But I still have all my appendages and so does Bugsy so its all good.

Dear Mr or Mrs Fox it would be best if you did your crossing of the road either before we arrive or after we pass through,

Monday, May 9, 2011

guard dog

Big bad Bugsy who never misses an opportunity to bark at the UPS man that stops and plays with him has made no indication of interest with regard to the 4 men digging right outside the window.
I went to go see what he was doing and he was on his bed which is about 2 feet from the open window, snoring.
When the trucks arrived with much clatter, nothing.
When they shout to each other, drill, saw and when they ate lunch. Nothing.
Not interested.
When I pointed them out to him he wagged his tail.
OK whatever Bugsy, but your reputation as a tough guy will suffer.

Oh that's right everyone knows you are a big baby!
My sweet boy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thanks for all the smiles Bugsy

For a variety of reasons life is getting on top of me lately. I feel 'darker' than usual and just irritated and serious.
Enter Bugsy.
Gosh he can make me laugh and get me to play no matter my mood.
I am much more than very thankful for that because sometimes as adults we get way too serious and forget to just have some simple, silly fun.

So thanks Bugsy for reminding me how much fun life can be on a beautiful evening - all it took was a 4 inch piece of cedar from a plant too.

I also want to say once again that this dog has a full social calendar.
This morning he had a bit of a play with a chocolate lab pup, who then walked most of the way home with us.

Then this evening the cocker spaniel puppy came over and they ran around like fools.

Tuesday he played and/or walked with 5 different dogs. It's crazy and oh so wonderful.

Yes I am unabashedly feeling the love for the beast.

MY world is a much better place for having him in it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

just a day in the life

as per usual Bugsy was just waiting for one of us to make the first move, not sure how he knows when someone is getting up to pee or getting up for the day, but he does. This morning it was DH at 5:30am and Bugsy could not have been happier.
Oh to awaken each day as if breathing was the greatest and most pleasing thing ever! He wiggles and wags and does a somersault which is followed by much rolling, stretching and making odd noises. He beckons you to rub his belly and it cannot be resisted.

Then after the coffee pot is started he races to the backdoor skidding to a stop just in time to not slam into the door. His collar is affixed and then he about tramples you out the door and the next one too.
Off into the morning to determine who has visited overnight.

Whether it is I or DH we amble bleary-eyed down the drive to get the paper. At some point along our journey back he will fly into the picture grabbing the newspaper out of our hand and he carries it in to the house and then drops it on the steps to the kitchen door. Without fail this is how he begins each day.

Breakfast follows and then he is a first class imp until he follows me upstairs to make the bed and get ready to run or walk.

This morning he wanted to fly - it was one of those mornings I wish we could still bike ride together - he would have outrun the bike this morning. Instead we settled for mixing some jogging with a few sprints and a few walks.

I thought he was tired when we got done but no, he needed to play fetch with his wubba, run in and out of his pool and then zoom in the goofy way he does. Oh I can't help but laugh.

After the morning festivities he settles down, thankfully, until lunchtime when if one of us is home, he goes out to once again investigate his turf and then sun bathe for a short time.

This afternoon we went to the vet for his bordatella and immediately after we arrived a pretty hound/boxer mix came in and the two of them started playbowing and trying to wrestle in the lobby. Now he loves to go to the vet but this I have never seen before.

Finally, tonight we had someone coming to give us an estimate for some stonework. Bugsy always knows when we are waiting for someone and to say he gets excited/anxious would be a HUGE understatement. The guy turned up an hour late so Bugsy had been running to windows and on high alert for most of that time.
The guy was here for about an hour and Bugsy was chilled out inside but still watching every move.
Finally the man left and he went flying out the door and tracked every footstep the guy made.

Having completed his inspection he pooped, came inside, had a huge sloppy drink, and retired to bed.

Day over.
Well until someone opens the cottage cheese tub and tells him to go banyo.
Then if he is lucky, some unsuspecting rabbit is grazing in the yard. He stalks them for ages, standing at point, and then *bam!* he's off.
Rabbit runs free
He takes a pee, comes in, up the stairs and chooses a bed for the night.

See you when one of you gets your lazy human butt out of bed and we can start this all over again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Today something amazing happened.
Something I truly did not have faith 'could' happen,
but I wanted to believe we would achieve.

I successfully called Bugsy off geese.
Yes you heard correctly. He went into full attack mode but I was able to stop him before he launched.
I'm still processing it. Still tingling with the fear of losing him and the intensity of the 'moment'. Which was much more than a moment.

So it goes like this. It's a beautiful day. Perfect. All day I've been imagining taking him to the lake for a swim, but since I am still suffering with bronchitis and asthma I was concerned about having the energy to be fully in charge. (one never does anything with the beast without having the ability to be fully in charge)
So I came home from work, changed, strapped the e-collar on the beast and a waterproof collar, added fresh duck scent to the dokken duck, and loaded up.
As soon as we took a few steps toward the beach area I spotted two Canadian geese by the boats. The boats we have to walk past.
Fortunately they walked off behind the boats so although his nose was aware and he was looking for them, they were out of his sight.
Unfortunately two American Coots were not out of his sight. Since he doesn't usually show an interest in them he caught me off guard and took off. The coots launched and some small children and their parents screamed at the scene which distracted him giving the poor coots a bit of time to get free. He continued his chase but I called 'here' and gave a stim.
Shocked he looked back and decided to listen.
Whew minor crisis averted. I apologized to the children and parents, the kids were thrilled to watch the doggie swim, parents thought I was nuts.
Ah well, I am I suppose.

We then were able to do some nice retrieves and everyone was happy.
But then our Canadian geese friends resurfaced from behind the boats and were squawking like mad.
He whipped around so fast and went straight into the pre-launch attack mode that my heart stopped. They mindlessly honked while he became ever more fixated.
The audience was now still and silent, even the little kids stopped playing.
Despite the cool water and temps I began to sweat profusely.
His 30ft line was attached but I knew I couldn't physically hold him.
I called 'here' with a sound stim. He crept lower and toward the geese.
Crap I thought I am going to lose him.
HERE! stim
He flinched but became more intent.
HERE! higher stim
He looks at me, with a look that could kill. "I am busy Mom, do not interfere"
HERE! same stim
He loosens and reluctantly comes toward me, clearly confused by what his whole being believes is the right thing to do (attack geese) and doing as commanded.
I re-engage him with the dokken, but the tension in his body is unmistakable.
One mom and her kids are now transfixed. She comments that she has never seen intensity like that and that it fascinates her to see his conflict.
Her little boy wants to throw the dokken.
hmm OK so Bugsy happily gets it and brings it to the little guy, still with an eye on the geese.
They honk again. He's on the verge.
We struggle again, but once again he re-engages.

I'm joyous and terrified because I know we are on the edge, he could take off at any moment. The darn geese are on land near the boats so if he did go on a tear it would be a disaster, keep in mind he has a 30 ft line attached.
We continue this dangerous dance for as long as I can stand it. If I lose any concentration I'll lose him. And he is looking for that moment.

So we wrap it up BUT the geese are about 5 ft from our gear bag that I tossed on the beach. No way, no how I can walk with him to get it. So we had to walk up and around the beach house, through the playground and back to the car.
This was no easy task because he clearly knew I was trying to avoid them and was doing all he could to get an opportunity to launch after them.
He is nothing if not persistent.

My favorite move was a pretend mark of a tree in which he hunkered down and locked on to them from behind the tree. Another 'leave it' and zap helped move us along safely.

We received horrible stares as I led this large, tense, muscular dog, hand on his collar to keep him right at my side with no leverage, through the playground.
Although one little girl ran up to pet him and he broke into tail wagging and kissing, LOL.

Eventually we got back to the car but he refused to go in. He just kept staring at the boat area, you can't fool the beast.

But for all the struggle we had a lovely time.
He swam, retrieved his dokken, kissed some 2 yr olds and I stopped him from chasing the geese.
I am still trying to fully process this achievement.
I know we are not free from our struggles, he will likely really work me next time having been thwarted this time, but we did succeed.
There is hope.

The work we've done with the collar is showing.
Its not the easy time many report but the fact that it worked today on geese on Bugsy, is nothing less than extraordinary.
I'm still smiling.

I still fantasize about having a normal dog that just loves to play in the water and will fetch anything you throw, paying no mind to the resident wildlife.
But I don't have that dog.
I've got my Bugsy and I love him and I suppose I do appreciate the challenges he throws my way. It makes successes like today extra special.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Charge your fears... or something like that

I've been battling some bronchitis so I haven't been walking Bugsy in the morning (fortunately DH has been able to do that) but the last two nights I've wanted to take a short slow stroll and have brought Bugsy along.
Tonight we had a very interesting experience.
It was a gorgeous warm evening (too warm if you are Bugsy)and we were casually walking along when suddenly, in a low lying area Bugsy charged into some long grass.
Of course I am used to him darting off to smell things but this was more than that.
He started to intently sniff some grass and his tail went from its normal up to very low.
Very, very low.
Only time I've seen his tail this low is when he found the 5ft black snake skin, so that got me thinking.
Then he flinched as if stung by the grass.
I couldn't see anything.
Flinches again and acts as if there is some barrier between him and the grass.
OK now I am getting worried.
I'm looking frantically and trying to get him to leave whatever it is alone.
He won't budge and keeps sniffing and exploring.... tail and body language very concerned.
He seems wary of a long twig (ugh I think he really is smelling snake) so I grab the stick and he freaks and tries to grab it from me.
Good Lord Bugsy don't give me a heart attack.
He's continuing to sniff and search.
I'm desperately trying to get him out of there and to see what he smells.
I can't see anything.
But he hones in on a particular spot.
I carefully lean down to see if I can see anything.
He flinches as I move down- I swear my heart is racing.

I think I can see the head of a snake deep in the grass/mud.
That is all I needed, to do what I should have done in the first place, grab him and get our noses out of there.

So I cannot confirm there was a snake there but if I was a betting woman I'd say there was. And since I know that area always has copperheads I'd also gather it was a copperhead.

Bugsy the snake detector.

Now if I could just get him to not try to 'get' everything he smells/finds/fears we would all be a bit safer and my heart rate wouldn't spike so often!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

a softer gentler Bugs

Bugsy is a wide-open sort of guy.
He is a big baby and a very gentle guy but his energy and power usually live up to the bull in a china shop cliche.
He's on or asleep and has never really shown much consideration of injuries or illness............his or yours.
I always hear people say how their dog is so attentive when they are sick or disabled and I kind of chuckle and think not my Bugs. He drops his toys on me, drags me limping down the street with a face that says, "could you pick up the pace? gimp!"

But the last few days he's been super attentive to me. I've got a bad cold which has hit at peak allergy/asthma time so my chest is laboring to breathe.
He has been by my side.
I've been napping on and off for two days and each time I awake my boy is at my bedside. Sometimes asleep sometimes just staring at me.
In addition he has been bringing me his half chewed rawhide or antler and leaving it next to me. I'm not sure what that means but it seems awfully cute.
Not great to step on but it seems interesting and kind that he puts it next to me and wanders off. If I move he will collect it and place it next to me in my new place.
He's been watching me as if he is waiting for something to occur - this is a bit creepy because I can't help but wonder if he thinks I'm going to drop dead - I certainly feel like I could!
His body language is soft, very, very soft. His eyes are soft. I've never seen them look so kind.
He has collected me and shepherded me to DH at meal times, tail wagging as if to say, "here she is Dad, I've got her"
I don't know it is melting my heart - no doubt I am more emotional because I feel so weak but he amazes me.
For so many reasons

Today I finished a great book "The Tattered Autumn Sky" by Tom Davis.
I finished the passage below and looked up to see Bugsy's powerful yet soft amber eyes staring straight into mine............

"But even if she did nothing else, there would be the way she looks at me. Emmy has always been one of those dogs that meets your gaze, and when we stare into each other's eyes there is nothing more that either of us needs to know" (p244)

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's a great training tool - IF you use it properly

After much hemming and hawing (which really translates to much research and consideration) in January I purchased an electronic collar for Bugsy. These are usually called e-collars and I associate them with hunting dogs, although they are used for obedience training and I have heard they can be used in Schutzhund too.

I really had to step up my consideration of an e-collar after Bugsy's 3/4 mile swims at the lake which were only stopped when I was able to get a boater to take me out to get him; him who was still violently chasing the geese. It had become a serious safety issue.

I had many concerns: would it confuse him with the invisible fence (which he is 100% reliable on)? was it too harsh for him? would he respond to it or would it be a waste of time and money? My husband thought I was nuts when I selected the right collar (a 1 mile radius, waterproof, & vibration/shock/sound stimulation)and said it ran about $300.
Nervously I took the plunge.

Then I spent another week reading some more.

Carefully I started the training.

I won't lie, we've had ups and downs and I've made a few mistakes but it is working well.
In fact, the momentum for this post comes from the realization that for Bugsy, this is a much more humane solution than any sort of collar or harness, which I'll lump as 'physical' restraints.
The problem with physical restraints for him is that the ones that can withstand his power could easily cause damage to him.............and have to me.
With the e-collar the momentary stimulation in no way inflicts the pain of the prong collar that he has pulled on so hard he has broken it, or a flat collar smashing his windpipe as he attempts to break free to go after prey.

Our walks have become pain free.............for both of us. My shoulders are healing or at least not aching all the time.

His neck and shoulders MUST feel better to not have to bear the intense pulling that he would do from time to time and also the normal herky, jerkiness of "what's that?" "oo over there", etc.

Now I have put two leashes together and created a hands free situation.
He can duck into culverts (which is a favorite move but before if something was in one I could not, DH could not, remove him from the ditch)and check them out. He has gotten corrections for not responding to 'here' when his head is buried in the tube, reluctantly he responds post correction; we move on and he's happy again.
And no one is harmed.

Our collar emits a sound when I turn it on; he gets a treat each time he waits to hear it and to have the collar fastened. Tail wagging as he waits.

He enjoys some off leash time that wasn't previously available to him. He gets to stretch those long legs in scent-filled fields and it brings tears to my eyes to see him so happy.

I have not proofed it on geese yet - although this will happen in the days ahead. I wanted him to fully understand and appreciate his freedom and how he has earned it and its relationship to the collar before we try it on geese. I expect that it will be a situation that we have to work on before heading to the lake with confidence. Fortunately I have a fenced in school yard to practice on geese nearby.

I will finish by saying, I know that many people feel these type of collars are cruel. I would say that for some dogs they might be.
If your dog is soft and is easily corrected or spooked; these are not for you.
If you have a dog whose power is not great enough to inflict damage to them or you with a harness or collar then you really don't need this.
If your dog is what I would call biddable - they want to be with you and near you and look to you for direction - you don't need this collar.
Work your butt off with some positive training and the vast majority of dogs aren't going to need an e-collar. I have seen them on the wrong dogs and agree it is overkill and not a good idea.
Bugsy however is a hard dog. Hard as in it isn't easy to bother him. He hasn't been 'harmed' by the use of the collar even when I made a mistake (only one significant one in which I gave a tone correction in the yard away from his fence line but that confused him) it is gone in an instant.

We've tried every method of positive training to redirect him from his prey or self-anointed focus and to walk without pulling.
And we've tried choke chains (he broke it open at 5 mos old), prong collars (broke 2 of those going after geese), sporn harnesses, gentle leaders, easy walk harnesses, & various training classes.
But when he doesn't want to listen or do as asked (or what seems more like he actually doesn't know you exist any longer) he will overpower you or any physical restraint you try.
This is where the e-collar differs. I find that just the tone seems to wake him from where he goes mentally; sometimes he will choose to withstand the shock correction but it does interrupt his focus. And that allows you back in.
Nothing else has done that.
And it doesn't cause injury or pain (I have tried the setting I use on myself).
So for us my only regret is I waited this long.
The freedom we both feel is exhilarating

But it isn't for all dogs. You have to do a lot of homework on how to use it properly and ensure that your dog understands what you are asking and when & why they will get corrected.
It is unfair to stim a dog that doesn't know what you are asking. Do that and you will surely lose their trust.

In our case it is interesting, if anything he is more attached to me, in a healthy way, for the first time I can really see him look to me for direction.
All the touchy, feely, food-based, toy-based, fun, creative, physical correction based, etc. training we have done over 5 years did not create a situation where he looked to a human for direction. He hasn't lost confidence and he isn't nervous to do his own thing he just seems to realize that we are out there together.
Its a beautiful thing!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cold tail/Limp tail and other things

Last week I decided it was time for a swim.
Bugsy was very happy about this decision even though the air temp was a bit cool and windy.
I threw his Dokken Duck into the lake and off he went.
Over and over.
Joy written all over his face.
I didn't do as many retrieves as we usually work our way up to and when he left he seemed to have plenty of energy in the tank.
In fact he drove me nuts all day long.
Late that afternoon I decided to trim his nails, no biggie, we do this a couple of times a week.
However this time when he got up his tail was limp.
To make a long story short he was once again suffering from cold tail.
Which is a bit of a misnomer although no one has determined exactly what causes it (it can happen in the middle of summer) it is clearly not only a nuisance but extremely painful.
The first 24 hours were really bad - he displayed more signs of pain than at anytime after his TPLO.
But it started to get better and I would say by the third day he was carrying it better and not showing signs of discomfort at all.
Its all honky dory now and its back up in the air and wagging furiously!

He's had this 3 times now - once a dog gets it, they are very likely to get it again.

Its a warm day today and it will be tempting to let him swim again, hmmmmmmmmmmmm
Perhaps we'll wait a week. I don't want to do that to him again!

In other news he is thrilled to have a baby cocker spaniel living next door. This is only one step less exciting than if he had his very own puppy.
They are figuring each other out and enjoying being silly together. I'm glad and fortunate that Bugsy loves puppies and loves to share!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Puzzle boy

Bugsy loves puzzles, really loves puzzles.
But he figures them out swiftly and then they are fairly useless in what I want from them.
What might that be you ask?
Time. I want them to take a bit of time.
That's all, its not too much to ask now is it??

Well a very good friend of mine gave me this toy Tornado because her dog just didn't like it.

We could hardly take the box off fast enough!!!
Typical for him we didn't have to teach him how to do it. We just put some kibble in the spots and off he went.
So we did it again with only putting kibble in a few of the compartments.
Even better, he said!

What I think is wonderful is that you can use it in so many ways. You could fill all the slots, or a few on one level, or random slots.
Or you can take the little plastic bone covers and place them over some kibble in the top slots.
This turns out to be a challenge because the beast's nose is too large to get at it cleanly so he has to wedge his face in there to get them off.
But he does.
And then he wants more.

Here's a little video of him working it

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Foster homes are always needed

A friend of mine is very active with the Best Friends Pet Adoption agency and sent me this:
We have had such a busy, crazy week in BFPA - resulting in us needing to find 6 new foster homes, for the following dogs :

Freddie - (black Labrador Retriever), 63lbs - he is a happy, medium energy loving dog that needs experienced dog owners, who understand pack leadership. Probably better if Freddie is an only dog, but would be OK if carefully introduced. He can be nervous around small children, so preferably a home without children, or with older children or teens would be better for Freddie.
Thorn (Husky) aged 8 / 77lbs (but needs to lose a few of these) is well behaved, good with everyone, easy to foster. He currently lives with Beau (below) they are very attached to each other, but could be separated.
Beau(mastiff) aged 9 / 90lbs and a big lovebug Beau can be shy - so probably needs a quieter home. He and Thorn are victims of the economy and a broken marriage.
Isis -( Shepherd mix) - 7 months old and very sweet. Good with children and other dogs. She is young, and still learning.
Jake :(Boxer) Male, 6 years old, about 63lbs. Jake is a happy dog and treat motivated. He knows basic commands -- including wipe your feet. Jake loves head scratches and the hair dryer!! After playing, Jake will settle in for a long afternoon nap. He would benefit from a home with another dog and lots of Frisbees and balls
Miki - (Border collie/terrier mix) she is an adult female, about 45lbs. Great with other dogs and cats, Miki is black and white, with beautiful blue eyes! Very sweet natured dog.

There's no pressure for you to get involved with all of this! I just thought that there may be someone out there that you know, and who might be able to help us. So if you are able to add to your log, or email this out to anyone you think might be interested, I'd be very grateful.

People foster until a permanent home can be found, all expenses are paid by the BFPA group (meds/food/flea/tick/heartworm preventatives) We need people to have a secure yard or be prepared to walk the dog on leash (i.e. no loose dogs as this is often the way we get them as strays!), they fill in an application form so that we have contact details etc. Dogs cannot be chained up outside, of course! More details on fostering can be found on the website

If you are local to the Triangle area and are interested, post a comment or email me and I'll hook you up with the right person

Oh and my friend's current foster was featured as the WRAL pet of the week

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sniffing with a purpose

I'm always trying to find new things and challenges for Bugsy to do. He just isn't the type of dog who is going to be happy going for gentle walks and lying around day after day.
So with the help of someone who is active in Search & Rescue work I've been experimenting with some of the exercises they use to train cadaver dogs.
Yes I said cadaver dogs.

For now we are starting with some nail clippings in a glass jar that has holes on the top. I'll be getting some hair clippings this week from the salon to use as well.

We've done a few exercises with the nail clippings and its truly fascinating stuff.
I've taken the cap off a few times and just let him smell them. I did this several times on a walk to the fields we run in.
After which I hid the glass jar in the field and sent him to 'find'
He went off with vigor and had the scent but there were so many wonderful scents (he always finds plenty of rabbit poop in this field) and he was clearly working hard to find the scent.
I thought I'd stretched him too far on the first one, but fortunately he has lots of drive so he kept working until he found it!!
We had a party when he did LOL
The party is with a toy that we only use as a reward for finding - we do some tug or some fetch whichever he prefers.

We did a few more finds that day and I even got him to sit when he found it instead of picking it up. This is a significant change in what I ask of him - our usual game of 'find it' is completed by him bringing the object to me.

A few days later I decided to up the ante. I placed the jar in our yard and left it for 15 minutes. It was a windy day so I thought that this would be a good warm up challenge. At this point I am wanting him to succeed so that he enjoys the game and wants it to get tougher.
I sent him to 'find' and due to the wind it was interesting to watch him hone in on the scent. You can tell when it gets strong for him, his pace quickens and you can see the light bulb moment!

Finally on that day I hid the jar in our yard and we went for a long walk. We were gone for about 90 minutes when we came back I told him to 'find'. He looked at me like huh?
I told him again and he seemed to go 'oh I remember' (since the moles are active at this time of the year he usually follows his walk by hunting moles in the yard so he had headed off to do his mole hunting)
The wind had really dispersed the scent and you could see him struggling but working hard.
After making me nervous that he wasn't up to this challenge he caught the scent and was on the jar immediately!
great job Bugsy!!!!

It absolutely amazes me that a few nail clippings in a glass jar with a perforated top give off enough scent for him to find it after sitting out for 90 minutes on a windy day. And I haven't given him a quick whiff to remind him what he's looking for!
Ain't no doubt about it - dogs are amazing and I am lucky to have a willing partner in Bugsy, he makes it pretty easy to get excited LOL

Saturday, February 26, 2011

he's a crazy beast

LOL he really is
He's calmer than he's ever been which I attribute to age but he is still one funny, crazy dog

I just gave him a huge knuckle bone to chew because he was being a pain while we prepped our meal and he continued to chew through our meal and after it. You would think that after 90 minutes of chewing a frozen knuckle bone he'd be ready to settle down.
You would be wrong.
First he needed to go out exploring. This included playing in the sprinkler
Then he came in and stole some socks, then he went and bothered my husband who was on the computer, then he stole some papers from the desk, then he opened the hall closet.
Having opened the hall closet he decided to take out the kibble nibble toy.
I caved and put a few Charlie Bear treats in it, sigh.
He then rolled and rolled it until all the treats were out and promptly went into his crate.
No goodbyes.
No nothing.
Just one minute rolling the next minute tucked up in the back of his crate.
'night Bugsy

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bugsy's trip to the Duke Canine Cognition Center

It all started with classic Bugsy - well Bugs-a-duke. The road into the campus is very wooded the further along we went the more excited he got. Sniffing like a madman. So when we arrived on the campus he was fully charged and whining/spinning in the back of the car. I was getting worried, but doing my best to keep a calm demeanor.
A nice young man met us in the parking lot just in time to see Bugsy fly out of the back of the car in full hunt/frenetic/new place mode. The guy looked worried as Bugsy literally pulled me to and fro. At times like this he appears to be a feral animal not a domesticated dog. I gave a strong 'sit' command and without changing his orientation (away from me and the tester) he sat. The young man said, "oh good he knows sit." There was a sense of relief from him but also I could hear the holy crap this dog is untrained and a freak.
Having lept up onto a ledge and headed up some steps Bugsy seemed to know where he was going. Unfortunately he didn't need to go up the fire escape so I called him to me and we entered the building as if shot from a cannon and into an office.
We went through the office to the room where the testing would take place. It was adjoining to a small sitting room that was set up for owners to view the test as it took place.
Bugsy was VERY excited to be in a new place and meet new people. [:|] There were many 'things' in these rooms. None went unnoticed.
It all happened so fast I really have to try and recall how it played out.
The two students looked overwhelmed as Bugsy found treats, both the bags of treats up on a windowsill that was eye height for me and the ones that others had left behind, the male tester was scrambling to collect the treat remnants faster than Bugsy found them which only seemed to spur Bugsy to go faster!

He found the box of toys on the table at the other end of the room, took one out and ripped it open, knocked over a board they use as a barrier, stole the mascot (a black lab stuffy) from the waiting area knocking over someone’s left behind water cup, brought a pen, a clipboard, a magazine, carried the buckets around (used for the test), two large buckets mind you stuck together with magnets, gave fly by kangaroo kisses to them (he goes up on his hind legs and gently licks the person’s face), ate a leaf from a plant in the waiting area and generally caused chaos. He even tried to take some of the tape they had on the floor off and eat it. The two students were in shock.

Heck I knew he’d be excited and curious but even I didn’t imagine the havoc he wreaked. It was absolutely insane. He was everywhere and into everything as the three of us struggled to communicate about the testing. Three pairs of eyes watching him and three mouths agape as he furiously investigated his surroundings with extreme scrutiny and mischief.

I was trying not to panic but I was horrified. My worst nightmare was unfolding before me. Then when he was strutting around with the clipboard, wagging his tail and his entire body a display of mischief, we all laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes. That made me feel better but I was still worried about how he'd do in the test.

I told the female tester who was going to be tasked with holding the leash to take some treats and do a few little commands with him, she did and he did as asked. Ah we are turning a corner!!!
From that point he was awesome.
Throughout the testing the female held Bugsy and the male gave commands and performed the testing.
First up was giving a command, first facing him and then with his back facing Bugsy. Bugsy sat on both occasions.
Then they did a series of challenges with the buckets. There were four buckets which were set into two groups of 2 buckets. Each set of two was connected by magnets, with one bucket facing up and the other facing down.

The male tester would put a treat into one bucket but appear to put one in both buckets, Bugsy would then go to the bucket to get the treat. Sometimes the treats would be placed from behind a barrier so Bugsy couldn't see which one he did, and they varied how they blocked his vision, at times with a small board covering the tester’s hand and buckets and others Bugsy couldn’t see the buckets or the tester. Other variations included changing orientation in the room, adding distractions (like pretending that putting their hand in one bucket hurt) and giving him pointing cues.

The dogs are given 15 seconds to make a decision. They stopped timing him because all his decisions were within 2 seconds, most were immediate.

Due to his quickness they asked to do an additional test so we stayed for that too. In between tests he was allowed to wander again and was sticking his head in all buckets and garbage cans and came to see me and was as happy and I might say pleased with himself as I have ever seen him.

For the second test they had to use particular treats and the person would leave to the office room and come back. He would have a treat and odd objects. Not wholly sure what the challenge was but each time B was released he went and ate a treat, again without hesitation or any evidence of confusion. The final run they used two small plastic garbage cans, he ran up to one knocked it over and ate the treat.
All done LOL.

He loved working for them, it was very interesting to see how intent he was to perform. His behavior once working was excellent. He was exceptionally friendly, took the treats nicely, stayed on task, seemed to understand the ‘game’ without instruction, he would have kept at it until they quit, and clearly wasn’t overwhelmed by the surroundings LOL.

During the break between the two tests the testers were gushing at how well he was doing and how well-behaved he was being (this part was clearly a shock for them). We had a bit of a chat about the opening franticness and how that is HIS normal but once given a task he is focused. It was interesting and I was able to see that they, in no way, thought he'd do anything for them and had not had a dog that went from his 'introduction' to his performance level. They also thought he was under 2 years of age due to his high level of energy.
They said that although it’s a 'lottery' to be used in the tests when a dog performs as well as Bugsy they are usually asked back.

I'm proud of the little butthead LOL It was wonderful to see him work and also exceptionally funny to watch him investigate his new surroundings. I suppose that this was an instance where his curiosity and confidence in new surroundings were huge pluses.
It also was an opportunity for me to see that my suspicions are correct: the boy wants to work, always has and always will. It is a shame I didn’t know more from the beginning perhaps I could have found something for us to do, but to my credit at least I recognized it early on and have tried to utilize it.
Love you Bugsy – you are without question a one of a kind!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The colder it is

the nuttier he is!!

Its been a cold winter and today is a bitterly cold day with a wicked wind. So what does this mean to the dog with super short hair and a nearly naked belly?
It means WOOHOO lets be crazy!!

Seriously he loves the cold. LOVES the cold.

He's been mole hunting, running laps around the yard, trying to eat the bird's suet block that is suspended 9 ft in the air, & chasing crows

He chased a toy that was falling down the stairs - this is a very hair raising experience. Watching a 105lb dog with a mechanical knee trying to catch a falling toy down the stairs is, well not for the faint of heart.

He's fished for cottage cheese that he dropped into his water bowl - talk about a mess!

He's played fetch with his stuffed goose with me and then with himself when I decided it was too cold outside.
Nothing like watching him tossing it in the air only to stalk it and pounce on it, give it the death shake and start again.

Now he is here trying to prevent me from typing so that I will take him for a run.
And you know I will
and so does he :)


Friday, January 21, 2011

Life with a bird dog

We won't ever know exactly what mix Bugsy is - he sure seems to have a ton of GSP traits and at times looks like a giant GSP. I will always say whatever he is, he is a bird dog, a pointing or versatile bird dog, not a retriever (although he will retrieve)

I just began reading this book; "Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs" and when I saw this quote it just rang so true;

"Bird dogs plead with you to imagine the great things you could be doing together. Their delight is a lesson in the bliss of living." Thomas McGuane

That describes my boy to a tee. Heck if you read my description of him on the Daily Zoomie site I talk of his infectious zest for life.

So as far as I am concerned he's just my big old bird dog - obsessed with birds - the bigger the better and all critters large and small.
He awakes he each day with an unmatched enthusiasm.
He implores me to explore the world with him.
Bugsy I enjoy your energy and optimism more than you can know.

Yo mom turn dat TV off and let's go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How could I refuse

Thursday, January 20, 2011

an interesting walk

Not sure if it was due to yesterday's wonderful 60* weather or what but the dogs in the neighborhood were acting strange today.
We live in a neighborhood with a lot of dogs, acre + lots, and lots of natural areas. There are no sidewalks and all the houses are set a good distance from the road. Except for morning rush hour its like walking in a nice large park.

Fast forward to today as we approached our turnaround point - which is near a house with an elderly beagle and a young lab and a shih tzu. The latter has a habit, although not frequent, of wandering, today it was out aggravating everyone. I heard a bunch of dogs barking in that area but couldn't see anything at first. Then I saw the shih tzu, who decided to angrily charge Bugsy, who was busy sniffing.

The shih tzu, clearly upset that his angry agitated barking wasn't being taken notice of, did a lunge and yap yap. Finally Bugsy looked up, body language soft and unbothered, and seemed to say, "quiet down little one" and he went back to sniffing.
The dumb dog kept at him so he went to sniff it and it took off - his brain clearly changed to "rabbit" "chase it!" Scary moment but I was able to divert him and we went back to walking with the dumb dog following and yapping the whole time.

I found it interesting to watch and quite humorous too as the shih tzu seemed so offended that its efforts to agitate were for naught.

About two miles later we passed a house with a grumpy, intact male GSD, it decided to charge us, complete with nervous tongue flicks. He always tries to assert his dominance over Bugsy and there have been some tense times between the two, so when I saw the GSD coming and it ignoring its owner, I decided that stopping and talking to the GSD was my best option.

The GSD was fairly intense but B was calm and his tail wagged. The GSD was growling and trying to put his head over B's shoulder when the owner (7 mos pregnant) came and got him. B then went over to say hello to the owner and her son, sniffed the GSD's butt (who was still growling) and then marked their mailbox which made me and the GSD's owner laugh.

Another neighbor was out running and saw it all. We caught them up afterward and she was laughing but saying, 'whew thank goodness Bugsy is a sweetheart,' that could have been ugly.

That is very true, I was really proud of the beast today, he has returned to the place he used to inhabit which is a comfortable and confident place.
He is master of his domain :)
Good boy Bugs!