Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Sweetest Puggle...

Bruschi gets a bad rap for being a food-stealing, impatiently whining little bugger, but I gotta tell you, all that is wrapped up in one incredibly sweet, super loving dog.

I'm working late (its almost 12:30 am Eastern), and most of the house is upstairs, asleep. I walk out into the living room, and there is Bruschi, fighting the sandman on the couch while waiting for me to retire. His head delicately placed on the couch pillow, paw ever so carefully curled under his chin.

If cuddling him wasn't a good enough excuse for a work-break, nothing is. So, I sat down, leaned in, pet his super-soft head, gave him a kiss, and told him I loved him. He licked my cheek. We cuddled a bit more, I told him we'd go to bed soon, and headed back to the computer. He sighed, put his head back down, and closed his eyes.

Really, its worth the peanut butter sandwich that we "shared" earlier this evening.
(Left: Cell phone photo of Bruschi right now)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kodi's Killer Instincts

I've mentioned more than a few times on this Blog that Kodi, our rat terrier, has a very, very impressive prey drive, along with a remarkably agile little body.

Weighing in at 9.2 pounds, this tiny Feist can leap yards from a stand-still position, runs as smooth and elegantly as a racing dog, and springs into action at the smallest sight or sound of oncoming prey, including those that outsize her. OH, she also has a battle-cry that rivals most fire alarms.

Much of this can be attributed to the unique breeding that made the Rat Terrier back in the early 1900's. These dogs can claim roots that include the hound, jack russell, whippet and others. This is a breed that was established for one main purpose-- eradicating rats.

Kodi's opportunities to exercise her prey drive are limited to what can be done in a backyard, or on a walk-- so not much, but we do love to watch her signals and behaviors when she detects a critter or critter-hiding place. We do not encourage her committing or attempting any homicides. In fact, I keep bells and jingles on her to give critters fair warning that she is on their path.

This past Saturday, early morning, a wandering cat became the object of Kodi's "affection." We were at my parent's house in NY, in a neighborhood that does not respect the fact that cats should be indoors at all times. This one extremely large feline dared to enter the neighbor's yard and cross Kodi's sightline while she was sniffing some bushes in my parent's backyard.

She detected, snapped to attention, issued her battle cry, and charged to this teeny, tiny opening at the bottom of the fence, barely wide enough for my wrist. I panicked at her escaping the yard, and then really panicked when I realized her harness was caught on the bottom of the fence, while she was still lunging forward.

I grabbed the attached portion of the harness, my dad ran to alert the neighbor, the neighbor ran outside to look under the deck at where Kodi was caught... I released the harness lest Kodi struggle to escape and dislocate or puncture something. The cat was LONG since gone, and the yard was fenced, so I figured this made the most sense.

Once freed, she charged in impressive fashion out from under the deck that bordered the fence, through the yard, right into the arms of the neighbor, who picked her up and remarked "She's a cute little thing!"

After the panic was over and Kodi was securely inside the house, my dad and I started talking about her prey drive, how she immediately identified her path, and how she maneuvered her body so flat to get between the ground and the fence so, so quickly. And, how in-her-element she was on the chase. While nerve wracking, it was also quite impressive.

Oh, in case you were wondering, our home has been rodent-free since Kodi. And it safe to assume our child will never have guinea pigs or hamsters as long as Kodi is around.

That's a woof for now.

Baby-mania, Bruschi and Kodi

Brian and I frequently say to each other that we can't remember our lives before Bruschi, and it is even hard to remember what it was like to only have one dog, prior to Kodi. Our vocabulary quickly adapted to include words like "no-pull harness, raw food," and "veterinary opthamalogist," and questions like "Did they both poop? What color was it? Did he pull on the leash? Did she have a good time at day care?"

Now, with baby on the way, our regular conversations include words like "Pack N Play," "receiving blankets," "bouncy chair" and god help me, "stroller travel systems." I do remember when these weren't part of our vocabulary.

Silly me for not realizing the full, excessive extent of pregnancy/new baby merchandising....this coming from someone who admittedly is part of the "dog collar of the month" club. I love to shop and buy, I love novelties and accessories. I am a consumer at heart--But I assure you, this is over the top. Selecting a stroller was more difficult, and is taking longer than when I decided to purchase my first new car back in 2005. Business opportunity for Volkswagen: Start making strollers and car seats- oh, and helmets for babies riding in convertibles for your brand loyalists. And, I've seen more versions and types of blankets for babies than I tried on wedding dresses. Someday, I am sure Vera Wang will own that line as well.

Despite my tendency toward consumerism in general, the main focus of my baby prep is not the acquisition of all sorts of plastic baby gear-- its prepping Bruschi and Kodi (and Brian and I) for a teeny tiny human heartbeat that comes complete with lots of crying, dirty diapers, demanding feeding schedules and oodles of special attention from friends and family members. Its breaking bad habits that we've allowed to develop and tolerated over the past three years because they really didn't bother us that much. And, its creating new routines for them that will make for a more harmonious household.

We started this a few weeks back, moving the dogs to a once-daily feeding schedule (critics, have a field day here), and this weekend, even made them sit in the back-seat vs. my lap on the long, traffic-heavy drive to and from NY. This month, we are going to crack-down on turning noise outside the house (that usually brings upon non-stop barking) into a cue for "go get your ball." July we'll start with baby noises, and in August, the stroller (oh, god help me again) will make its debut on our walks.

I'm reading a few books by well-respected dog training professionals on what to do to get the pups ready for bambino. I know that bringing in a baby will be a huge change on them, and I really want to minimize other abrupt shifts during that time. It will certainly be an ongoing process for all of us, and I can't say that I am absent any fears or concerns-- because there are plenty.

I'm also spending a lot of time rebuking accusations that my dogs will become second class citizens in their own home once the baby arrives, explaining to people if that does happen, I will not only be a bad dog mom, but also a bad baby mama as well.

Surely, there will be more to come on this topic, but..

That's a "woof" for now!