About Last Night

I guess it was spring fever or something. Yesterday was simply gorgeous; temps were in the 70s and all was well with the world.

Because we were waiting for some artisans at the normal dog-walking time, JM had to stay home and wait and I took each dog out separately for a walk. Everything went well, both were well-behaved and we all were happy.

About 20 minutes after getting back, our plumber, Christian came over to look at a problem Mom was having with her sink. I opened the door to have him come in. Both dogs are supposed to sit and wait when I open the door. Peaches did; Shmoo didn’t. He took advantage of a second of confusion and made a break for it. He’s so fast, you just can’t stop him when he’s in that mood.

The problem is that it was rush hour and he runs straight down the middle of the street. Also, I was in my bathrobe and slippers! I went after him, but he just ignores me. One of the neighbor kids went to the other side of the Bastide to see if she could head him off. By the time I got to the end of the street though, he had already decided to come back and ran right back to me.

In fact, it’s not that I’m worried he’ll run off; I’m worried he’ll be hit by a car. A friend’s dog was killed that way during the last snow storm. It only takes a second, as we all know.

All is well that ends well, but it was really stressful!

Ciao for now.

Randy

Springish

It definitely has that feeling in the air. I know, it’s still the end of February and we’ve got another 3 weeks to go before the official beginning of spring, but you can feel it coming.

The real signs of a new season are there not in the daffodils that have poked their heads up into the air, even if they haven’t yet blossomed, but in the gardeners who are all out getting their plots ready for planting. You can see it in their eyes; that kind of hungry look that the avid enthusiast has when they’re about to embark on their passion.

I asked one of them yesterday if he wasn’t worried about us still having frost. He explained how it would be good, now that he’d turned the soil, because it would help to break things up even more. He was walking up and down his plot, looking like a racer waiting to begin a sprint.

I’m not sure if this is a sign of spring, but this morning when I took Shmoo for a walk (I had to walk the dogs separately for logistics reasons) there was a loose chicken in the gardens! His eyes lit up when he realized it was snack-on-the-hoof time, but he was clearly frustrated that I wouldn’t just let him go after it. I don’t know who had more spring fever: Shmoo or that chicken.

The chicken, by the way, was moving pretty fast for a creature with wings who instead chose to go by land. I didn’t know they could run that quickly. Of course, nothing outruns Shmoo in full out Shmoo-mode, so if I’d let him go, there would be one less feathery resident in Chalabre!

Ciao for now,

Randy

Blood-suckers

I have never seen anything like the ticks around here. We’re in the middle of winter; we’ve had several good dousings of snow; the temperatures have been well below freezing on and off for weeks; but the damned ticks seem to LOVE it!

We never had a problem with Maggie getting ticks, and Shmoo has been pretty well protected with a Scalibor collar and Stronghold (Revolution in the U.S.), but Peaches is another story! I’ve found several ticks on her despite that. Our vet thinks she’s more “fragile” and that’s why she attracts them.  I think she has a much finer coat than either Maggie or Shmoo and the ticks find it more appealing and easier to crawl on.  Whatever the reason, ticks are not a risk we can take here. 15% of them carry an illness that is deadly if not caught quickly.

Yesterday I decided to switch back to K9 Advantix. I had used that for Shmoo until our neighbor’s dog, Roxie, developed sarcoptic mange. I did NOT want to take any chances of that, so put him on something that protected against that as well as other things. Unfortunately, it does not seem to do as good a job against ticks as I’d hoped. And, the Scalibor collar protects against the mosquitoes that cause Leishmania and is supposed to protect against ticks as well, but clearly not so much.

Frontline Plus no longer seems to be as effective around here. Advantix protects against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, so it’s worth trying. Unfortunately, Peaches had diarrhea this morning, which I understand can be a reaction to the Advantix. She hasn’t had more than the one attack, she hasn’t vomited or seemed lethargic, so our vet said to just keep an eye on her.

Aye Caramba!  It’s always something.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Help us win!

Hi Everyone.

I was wondering if I could ask a favor of all my loyal readers: I entered a photo of Miz Peaches LaRoo and Shmoo Alexander in an online pet photo contest. If you click on this link you can vote for us. You don’t have to give them your email or sign up for anything. There’s actually a prize of CASH for this one, so we would be very grateful to have your votes, since 2010 is shaping up to be a not great financial year. This could buy us a lot of dogfood!

Thanks for your help and time.

Ciao for now,

Randy

Snow Day

Most of France (and most of Europe!) is under a big blanket of snow today. Those of you reading from the UK don’t need me to tell you about the severe winter weather, of course. But it has finally made it’s way down to the Possum Kingdom and beyond.

We had lunch out yesterday with friends from the States who have spent the holidays at a gite near Castlenaudry. They drove over and we had a delicious meal at the Hotel de France. At lunch, you eat in the bar and they have the TV on in the corner. The weather came on and there was great talk of snow, cold temps and high winds. In fact, while we were there, the school texted the parents to tell them that school was called off for today in prevision of the weather.

Well, we’ve all been there before: dire predictions of terrible weather then nothing happens. Not this time. It started to snow yesterday afternoon and has mostly been snowing since. Granted, it’s nothing like what some places have; we’ve probably received about 10 or 12 centimeters here, but for us that’s a lot.

We took the dogs out at about a quarter to 7 this morning and it felt like we were walking through the set of Narnia. Everything was covered in a thick blanket of snow, and the trees were just heavy with it.

Shmoo has seen snow before, but not this much and Peaches only got to see the light dusting we had right after she was spayed. Both of them went totally crazy with this and just wanted to run and play. In fact, I was taking Peaches out for a quick potty break, when Shmoo realized that HE wasn’t getting to go out. He waited for me to get the door open and then took off in a wild dash around the village.  He circled twice at top speed before coming back home. I wouldn’t really have minded if I wasn’t worried about the few cars that were out being unable to stop in time to avoid him.

After lunch we went out again and more running and playing were enjoyed by the four-footed amongst us. When we got inside, Shmoo took possession of the cushion directly in front of the fire and steam dried. Now, both of them are sacked out on the couch in my office; I think I may join them in a nap.

Ciao for now.

Randy

And so the new year begins…

Peaches has been so sweet and has fit in so well that sometimes I forget that she’s still a puppy and has only been here for 5 weeks.

Yesterday was one of those “puppy growing pain” kind of days. I had taken Shmoo for his rabies shot in the morning, leaving her home. She clearly didn’t like that very much. It set off a day of “events.”

First, on our return, she would not leave Shmoo alone. I’m sure he was tired and probably not feeling great from the shots, but he played with her anyway. When I say “played,” what I mean is wrestled and ran around the house almost non-stop the whole day. When they weren’t doing this, Peaches was barking at every noise in the street; there were a lot yesterday because the village workers were taking down the Christmas decorations. At one point, she must have drunk a lot of water then thrown it up in the one carpeted room in the house; JM’s office.

Also, if Shmoo wouldn’t play with her, she found OTHER things to do. This included stealing bits of kindling from next to the fireplace and chewing them up. Just as they were calming down, friends stopped by and got them started up again. I noticed that there was more chewed up wood on her toy cushion, along with my shoes and bits of chewed up candle wax. It was a mess, so I removed all the toys from the cushion and took it outside to shake it out. That was a mistake; when I brought it back and put it down she immediately peed on it! I guess she told me whose cushion that was! Unfortunately, because of the stuffing material, I couldn’t “save” it, so bye-bye cushion.

Everyone finally settled down after dinner. But at 2 am she started pacing and crying. At first I tried to ignore her, thinking she just wanted attention. But at around 3, it was clear she really meant it, so I took her out. BIG diarrhea; hello candle wax! I brought her back inside, but she definitely wanted back out, so I went back out with both dogs, as Shmoo also insisted on going out.

I stayed in bed, wide awake, the rest of the night until at 5:30 she wanted to go out yet again. JM and I decided we might as well get up; so we took them on their morning walk where she had 4 more bouts of diarrhea. The bakery wasn’t even open yet when we got back. Then as I was taking off my coat I heard “gak-gak-gak” noises and managed to rush her outside where she threw up some grass she’d eaten on the walk.

After that, she seemed to feel fine. I fed them their usual breakfast, but gave her pumpkin and some slippery elm that I keep for such occasions.

This morning, no one feels much like playing. They’ve both been pretty much sacked out except for a brief session of wrestling. JM and I are both feeling like zombies though.

We're angels

Ah, puppies!

Dog Play

I need to start taking my camera out when we go for our lunchtime walk. We were able to go to the gardens again today and I insisted that we let the dogs play. We took off their leashes, but Shmoo grabbed his and started running through the field with it in his mouth. Peaches followed trying to grab it too.

The problem with that is that then he let it go and I had to go traipsing through a VERY large field looking for a VERY small, black leash! I think we’ll take a bright colored rope toy out next time so that either a: it will be easier to find or b: I won’t really care if I can’t find it.

I learned two things: Peaches has an absolutely amazing recall for a dog who has lived with us for less than 2 weeks. Frankly, it’s better than Maggie’s when she was out chasing squirrels and far better than Shmoo’s when he’s interested in something else. Peaches was totally willing to leave Shmoo and his “project” to come back to me without even a second’s hesitation. That was very, very cool.

The second thing I learned is that even though having Peaches to play with is fun for Shmoo, he still prefers digging a gigantic hole looking for voles to be a superior activity. As soon as he got “vole-scent” in the field it was all over. No more play; there’s serious vole killing to be done!

Of course he never digs for voles in the part of the field nearest to the path, that would be too easy. No, he has to go all the way into the middle where the weeds are tallest and dig there, which means that I often have to go in after him if we want to go home.

Still, they are both pretty tired out now and peace reigns. Life is good.

Ciao for now.

Randy

A Week of Celebrations

The first full week of December is always a momentous one for us.

First, it was five years ago tomorrow that we first set eyes on the Possum Kingdom! It is always astonishing to me that another year has sped by so quickly. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that first visit, or the subsequent ones where we made our decision about buying our house. What a good day that turned out to be for us.

Second, it was three years ago this week that we adopted our dear Shmoo Alexander. It was a cold day with snow flurries falling and there he was, limping around outside our door. It was clear he needed to go to a vet for some attention to his poor paw. We were NOT going to keep him, that’s for sure. He was much too big a dog for us and, besides, we had decided we were a one-dog family. Well, you all know how that decision worked out. I will never cease being grateful for his presence in our lives. We could never have guessed that only a year later, our sweet Diva Maggie would be beginning her final illness, and that only the presence of Shmoo would keep us from sinking into despair.

Now we have another event to celebrate: this morning I took Miz Peaches to our vet to get her shots and have her micro-chipped. She is now, officially and forever a part of our family. Of course, in her case, there was never any doubt that if it was up to us, she would stay. We already knew that our Shmoo would enjoy having another friend in the house, and we are suckers for a good Border Collie face.

So, tonight we may have to break out a bottle of Blanquette and celebrate for real.

Ciao for now.

Randy

A Fast Week

Today is Saturday morning and Miz Peaches LaRoo has already been here a full week! She is so settled in that it seems amazing that she has been here for such a short time.

Shmoo is loving having a little sister again. Although, as you can see, he is plumb tuckered out:

I need to sleep!

I need to sleep!

Peaches, on the other hand, is full of energy. I’m not sure if she’s more like the Energizer Bunny or the Tasmanian Devil, because she will eat anything! I’m pretty sure that she would quite willingly finish up every morsel of food in the house and keep looking for more.

Did you say steak?

Did you say steak?

Luckily, she does find time for sleep and once we got her little tummy straightened out she has been able to sleep through the night without further potty breaks and we have had no further accidents in the morning.

She learns things amazingly fast and I think will take to regular training even better than Shmoo. Her enthusiasm does need to be reined in somewhat, because she has a tendency to bounce and claw in excitement, which has already devastated several of my favorite sweaters. Her nails are pointy and sharp!

Look; I'm calm!

Look; I'm calm!

My biggest fear, which was that she and Shmoo would not get along, is totally eased. They seem to truly enjoy each other and the only “issues” that we still have tend to be food related ones. She doesn’t like him looking at food if she thinks he’s going to get it and she isn’t. She also is a total attention hog and has no hesitation in trying to push him out of the way to get to a human for cuddling. In fact, if Shmoo is standing in her way, she will simply walk UNDER his belly rather than go around him. Considering that a week ago she wouldn’t go past him in the room, that is what I call progress.

Ciao for now.

Randy

A Morning Adventure

When we got up to the bike path/rail tracks it was still pitch dark outside (not helped by the rainy weather). Shmoo was in a state; lunging and wanting to get “something.” I thought he was seeing my shadow, as I was back-lit by the street light behind me. I put my flashlight on and he practically dragged me ahead; this in spite of wearing his head collar!  We got to where he wanted to go and I see him sniffing a big, gray rock. Only, when I focus the light on it I saw it wasn’t a rock at all, but a HEDGEHOG! The ones I’ve seen up till now have clearly been babies, because they were tiny little things. This was pretty big; about 9 or 10 inches long.

At first, I thought maybe it was a porcupine and was kind of worried that Shmoo would get quills in his face, but I realized that it was not the right kind of quills to be a porcupine. I just had never seen a full grown hedgehog before I guess.

Anyway, he was VERY excited but I pulled him away before he could hurt it or get hurt himself. I think the fact that it was curled up and lying still saved its life, because he couldn’t chase it..

We finished our walk, but when JM showed up to meet us, I didn’t let Shmoo play the run-to-daddy game (now that I read that here it sounds very embarrassing) because I thought he was still too obsessed about the critter and might take off after it in the dark. I really didn’t want to deal with that.  When we got back to where it had been lying, it was gone, so I guess it took advantage of our leaving to get itself someplace safe.

I suppose that is one of the things that our “great hunter” is often tracking on our morning walks. I always assumed that it was just a cat, but that is clearly wrong. If I hadn’t been using both hands to hold onto the beast’s leash, I would have gotten a picture, although you all probably would have thought I was just photographing a fuzzy rock!

Ciao for now,

Randy