Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dogs on Tuesday

Haven’t done a dogs on Tuesday in a while, so here are a few pics and a background on our guys. We have had a few dogs along the way, and quite a few cats. Down in San Diego we had four cats at one time, and as they left us we noticed an increase in birds in our back yard: strange correlation. We also like the birds chirping around, and so haven’t gotten any new cats. Now here in Vegas we have some fountains out front and in back that really attract the birds, we like watching them come by for a drink or a bath; two hummingbird feeders which this time of year need to be refilled a few times a week; and we fill a bird feeder out back on an irregular basis as it tends to empty very quickly (and we are too cheap to constantly replenish the thing). This time of year the mockingbirds are singing away and the finches and starlings come through in flocks, chirping away and arguing with each other, filling the oleanders and hitting the fountain.

When growing up I never had any pets, as my brother had some severe allergies. Our first dog in California was a pure bred Sheltie (Shetland sheepdog) that was just a big bundle of fur. Our next dog was a little strange; B visited somebody on an irregular basis and talked about this strange little thing that she had, which would hide underneath the end tables and bark at her. On one visit the woman said she was going to travel to Europe for a year and couldn’t take her dog, so was going to put it to sleep. That seemed strange, why do that to an animal when there are people that would be happy to take care of it? Anyway, B said she would be willing to take the dog to our house, and when it showed up it was amusing. Rose was a long haired Chihuahua; her hair was a mix of grey and black and not soft but stiff, sticking up in all directions; at less than four pounds she looked like a Brillo pad with four pencils stuck in it. She was noisy and bouncy and ran all over the place, but most liked to be held, which was easy to do as she was so small, so she would probably do quite well now as a celebrity purse puppy. Rose was with us for about twelve years, and was really B’s dog, constantly following her everywhere. It was a challenge to walk around as she was smaller than your foot and always down below, so you had to be very careful not to step on her or kick her. Rose was too small to be able to jump up on the couch or bed, so we had some small hassocks that we would put by the couch and she would jump on that first as a step then onto the couch. She liked our bed, but we didn’t let her sleep with us as we were afraid of rolling on her and breaking something, so she slept in her little bed next to ours. B was devastated when she died, and it took us a while before visiting the animal shelter to get another dog.

After having Rose I found it was nice to have a little dog around, the big ones tended to just stay outside and not be as interactive. So I started going to the big animal shelter in San Diego looking for a smaller dog. Rose was just a little too small; at less than four pounds she was too easy to not see underfoot, and a little fragile. The animal shelter had a lot of big dogs, but they said little ones tend to not come in and be adopted very quickly when they do, so I kept going back every week for quite a while before any smaller dogs showed up; I guess like Rose it is easier to find somebody to take a small dog and they don’t get dropped off at the shelter very often. One day this little black and white miniature terrier was in one of the cages, and so I went in to sign up for him. I ended up number fifteen on the waiting list, as others had seem him first. The shelter had rules for adoption of animals; they wait five days just in case it was lost and the owner is looking; if an animal is dropped off they add five more in case the owner changes their mind and comes back; if neutered an additional five days are added; for small dogs they add five more days. I guess they have had problems in the past with emotional owners coming to reclaim pets, or try to find lost ones. I went back the next day and there was a second dog of about the same size in the cage, and I found myself as number ten on the list for him. I guess people really were interested in the small dogs, as these were the first two I had seen after six months or so of trips down there. A week later a smaller Chihuahua was in the cage with the other two, so I put my name down for him as well, figuring that with so many people on the list I would not end up with either of the first ones. A few weeks later I got a call from the shelter that I could have the black and white one, as everyone ahead of me on the list had declined or couldn’t be contacted. So I went down with B and we adopted Max. While filling out the paperwork they said that I could also have the second dog as no one ahead of me on his list came forward either, but we had to wait another day for the holding periods to expire on him. I figured two guys would keep each other company so I agreed, and the next day we picked up Buster. I was called a week later about the Chihuahua, as I was first on the list, but B said two were enough and the shelter said the list for that one was over 25 people so they would have no problem giving him to someone else.

The vet estimated Max to be about a year old and Buster around four. He said Max looked to be a full miniature tricolor terrier (there is a spot of brown someplace) and Buster was some type of Chihuahua something mix, having the more typical eyes and face of a Chihuahua but a lot larger than normal. They both were just under ten pounds, and even though we spoiled them they have stayed at about the same weight. That was a little over fifteen years ago, so Max is about 16 and Buster around 19. If one dog year equals seven people years then Buster would be what, around 130 or so years old? He is acting like an old man sleeping more and walking slower, but still bounces around the house begging as usual.

They liked laying in the sunshine close to each other but not too close. Black Max got hot pretty quickly, but Buster would lay out there when it was 100 in the summer and just enjoy the hot. But when it was a little cooler Max could fall asleep sitting outside. He seemed to like sitting out there better than lying down, waiting for us at the front gate to get home or come inside after yard work.

Max was always the boss. After all, he was stuck in that iron cage with the other guys for several weeks, after probably being spoiled at his prior home, and he did get to our house a day ahead of Buster. It was very apparent that they didn’t like being locked in jail like that and more than ready to jump in the car to go anywhere else. When we walked in with Buster the next day Max was very disturbed, probably thinking 'hey, I was stuck in a little concrete box with that guy for weeks, and now I get this cushy house and all this lovin' and he shows up? No way' and proceeded to quickly bite Buster on the butt and try to chase him away. But they both learned to put up with each other, laying on the couch at the same time but not touching. Even now Max will try to chase Buster off the couch when he tries to get on, and frequently Buster ends up with a sore butt from those sharp teeth of the other guy. He doesn’t usually fight back, but just walks away.

When they first came to live with us Max was a lot more active than Buster and was the jumper. He could jump really high, but had not learned how to tie moving forward with the jumping vertical thing, so when he tried to get up on the couch he just ended up bouncing up and down in front of it. It was amusing to be sitting watching TV and have Max come over wanting to join us. He would get in front of the couch and start jumping, reaching your eye level, but being unable to figure out how to get up onto that couch itself. Eventually he learned to get closer, putting his front paws out and on top of the cushion, but still he could not get the forward thing in there and would bounce up and down for several minutes before we stopped laughing and felt sorry for him and picked him up. It took him a few years before he figured out how to jump up onto things. Buster evidently had figured that out a long time before, and so he was always up on the couch or chair next to you. We figured that he lived with a little old lady before joining us, as he immediately latched on to my mother; as soon as we took him off of the leash getting him home he jumped up into my mother’s lap. She had never had a lap dog, and it took her a while to learn to put up with him, so he had to be content with just sitting next to her where we would usually find him.

Since he could jump we ended up sleeping with Buster in our bed from the first night. We had gotten doggie beds for both of them, and would put the guys in their own beds down there at night, but Buster would wake up and join us so we just gave in. Since Max couldn’t jump up he was stuck in his bed, but seemed happy with that. During the winter we put hot pads under their beds to keep them warm down on the floor, and sometimes on cold days we would find them over on their hot pads instead of up on the couch. After moving to Vegas I started picking up Max and letting him sleep next to me. We tried having them sleep at the foot of the bed, but when Buster moved or rolled over Max would bark at him and bite him, so I had to pull Max over to sleep next to me at the edge of the bed. Buster moved up between us and likes to snuggle, so some nights I would end up pinned unable to roll over with somebody stuck on either side. If I moved Max would growl at being disturbed but Buster was easy and you could raise the sheets and just roll him over out of the way.

A few months ago Buster got an eye infection and had to have his left eye removed. He has cataracts in his right eye, and can just see movement close up, so now he bumps into walls and chair legs, and circles the house trying to find people. If he circles around so that you are on his left he hasn’t yet learned to turn his head back and forth looking, so he will go right by. He is deaf in one ear and cannot hear very well out of the other, so besides being almost blind he is also almost totally deaf. Last night I was at the computer and saw him wander through three times, yelling at him as he went by each time, before he finally came over and found me. He also had all his front teeth removed, leaving not much for a smile.

Max was our guard dog, always barking at things, and he used to like to come and sit and watch whatever you were doing. E was a popular topic, as she always seemed to be doing fascinating things that required supervision.

Max likes to lie on the couch in the front room, where he can see out the window and bark at anybody walking by, to let them know it was his house and they weren’t allowed on the street in front of it. He would really go crazy when the UPS guy or anybody would ring the doorbell, and would bite people (on the ankle of course, couldn’t reach anything else) as they came in. We had to keep the guys locked in the bedroom when having guests over, but as they get older this has slowed down a bit and now Max is permitting people in the house, as long as we are in the same room. Buster’s favorite spot is the middle of our bed. He also likes the grassy area out back under the peach tree, and goes out there to just lie in the shade or wiggle around with his legs up in the air scratching his back and coming in covered in grass. Sometimes when we are not home Max gets in the bed, and seems to like my pillow.

Buster likes going for walks. When we pull out the harnesses and leashes they both get really excited, but after two houses Max is ready to be picked up and carried home while Buster keeps going, marking everything he can reach. Max would much rather go for rides in the car, standing in my lap with his head out the window, leaning on my arm because he is too short to comfortably see out and sniffing. But only when we drove slowly, at faster speeds the wind bothered him and then he pulled inside and sat down, whining for us to either close the window or slow down so that he could look out. He would get really excited when we drove by another dog, but since this is Vegas and not many people walk that didn’t happen very often. Buster doesn't care for car rides, and just sits in your lap and does not look out the window. At least neither of them get car sick.

At his checkup last year Max was diagnosed with some type of heart murmur, and has been on some fancy pills twice a day since then. Two weeks ago he was not eating and coughing all night, and an expensive visit with blood tests and xray showed water buildup in his lungs. That was another pill which helped, as he was jumping around last Sunday chasing pigeons away front the feeder, which he hasn’t done in a while. But the water pill damaged his kidneys and the replacement one didn’t work as well; late last week he started coughing again and early Sunday morning he jumped down from the bed and we found him on the front room couch. We went looking for him when we woke up later and found that he went out to lie on the grass in his favorite spot and didn’t come back inside. After fifteen years of him greeting us at the door, or back there behind the gate barking as we drive up, it is strange entering a quiet house. Buster can’t hear us, so we find him asleep on the bed. He too has been circling the house looking for his buddy. At his age it will probably not be too long before he is out back with Max again.

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