Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pure Joy!

Something special happens whenever Socrates and Penny get together.  Penny is just a pup, and Socrates becomes a pup again when he's with her!

Heres a close-up of Penny that shows her regal. Anubis-like features.  This is a gorgeous dog!

A close-up of Socrates wearing a big grin because he's playing with Penny!

It is Socrates job to engage the other dogs dogs and keep the energy level way up.  When he's playing with Penny, though, the job is just a game!  Bradley wants to join in on the fun, and its his first day!

We don't have toys around when Penny is here, because she eats them.  But they improvise.  Sticks are always great fun to play with.  Penny looks like she's saying, "Oh No You Don't!  That stick is MINE!"

It's hard to see in the photo, but Penny and Socrates both have the same stick clamped in their mouths.

When the stick breaks, Penny usually chomps up her half and then goes after Socrates piece!

They race around after the same stick for 20 minutes or more!  What fun for these two happy dogs!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

From a Growl to a Grin!

 Athena is very interested in Lexi's bone - and Lexi knows it.

When Athena gets too close, Lexi growls menacingly at her.  Like most terriers, Lexi has no idea how small she really is. She'll take on any dog that is looking for a fight.

Athena starts to circle Lexi, looking for an opening that will allow her to grab the bone.

Lexi never takes her eye off of Athena while she is being circled by the larger dog.

But when Athena leaves without the bone, Lexi appears to grin in diabolical delight.  She won!

Now why do people say that dog's emotions are so very different from human emotions?  In Lexi's case, anyway, that doesn't seem to be the case at all!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How Dogs Play

Lexi and Betty are best friends.  The two of them can play the whole day through - and they have!

Here is Lexi in the "Let's Play" position.  Anyone with a dog will recognize this pose.  Not everyone understands what constitutes "playing" for dogs, however, and with good reason.  Playing, for a dog, is a bit like practicing their life skills.  Different breeds have been bred to have specific skills; retrievers are bred to retrieve things, pointers point at things, herding dogs herd things, etc.  These same behaviors are used when they are interacting with other dogs for the sheer fun of it, which is as good a way as any to define "play".  
Not all breeds enjoy doing the same things.  My two terriers are completely uninterested in retrieving balls, for instance.  Terriers were bred to chase down and kill vermin, so Socrates and Lexi enjoy chasing and fighting. To complicate things even further, dogs like Socrates and Lexi are mixed breeds, and each has an unknown genetic heritage.  What this means is that they have an unknown mix of skills. Betty is also of unknown origin, but Betty and Lexi also like to chase and wrestle. When they play it often looks a lot like they are fighting to the death!

They are actually having a great time "pretending" to kill one another. What is interesting is that Betty and Socrates don't play this way; Betty will roll over immediately if he ever tries to play.  There are only a few dogs Betty will play with.
With Lexi, though, Betty gives as well as she gets!  That's one scary face on her, isn't it?

When things get too rough, Betty has a unique method of calling a time-out.  First she digs a hole in the dirt . . .

Then she lies in the whole and refuses to interact with Lexi or with anyone.

Betty stays in her little "den," until she is composed and ready to return to society.  It is really a sophisticated and complex group of behaviors that allow her to call a halt to unacceptable interactions while allowing her to calm herself.  As far as I know, it is behavior unique to Betty.  

I may be wrong about that, though, because I don't know what breeds make up her heritage.  She looks a bit like a Carolina Dog, a bit like a black cur, or maybe a red cattle dog.  She has some herding dog ancestry, for sure. She will often do the "Crouch/Stalk/Stare" like a Shetland Sheepdogs when she is playing, which is another example of playing as practice for real life.  Of course, isn't that true for all animals - including humans?  I think so, but I'm no expert. I just enjoy watching dogs interact. To me it's intensely amusing and endlessly fascinating.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Heartache Happens When You Fall in Love!

The dog business can be hazardous to your heart.  I fall in love with all my dogs, but Gemma and Mac, my soft-coated Wheaten Terrier pups, were the light of my life.  Here is one-year-old Gemma posing with the flowers.

Little Mac is just six-months-old.  Watching him grow up these past few months has been a joy.  Soft coated Wheaten Terriers get lighter with age, so pretty soon you wouldn't recognize him from this photo.  But right now he is just a big, soft, adorable teddy bear!

Lexi is probably six to nine months older than Gemma, but they were great pals despite the difference in age and size.  Lexi was VERY protective of both Gemma and Mac, and she would get in anybody's face if she thought they were in danger.  They never were, but Lexi didn't trust any other dogs that got too close.  She obviously had no clue that Gemma was three times her size, either!

Here the three of them are taking a break from the hot sun.  Notice that Lexi is being ever so vigilant as she protects the puppies!

Mac is a fast learner.  By the time this photo was taken, he would run to me every time I called him.  My own dogs take their sweet time if there is something more interesting around!  In any case, I sincerely hope Mac and Gemma will soon return to us because I miss them terribly - and I bet they miss us, too!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dogs Playing Ball

Big Heather and little Hoover.  You wouldn't think to look at them that they might be troublemakers.  They're actually NOT troublemakers, but they tend to leave a ton of trouble in their wake wherever they go.

All Heather wants to do is play fetch.  Constantly.  It's her normal behavior.  What was new here was Mac's interest in playing ball - Mac's very intense interest in playing ball!

What was also new was Gemma's intense protectiveness towards her little brother, Mac.  As soon as she understood that Mac wanted the ball, she went after Heather with a vengeance!

In her enthusiasm, she even crashed into Heather as she tried to snatch that ball from her mouth.  

It didn't stop with Heather, either. Gemma and Mac were just as outraged when Hoover managed to snatch a ball!

Lexi eventually had to step in and tell Hoover to stop teasing the puppies, regardless of the fact that the puppies were five times larger than he was. It was not clear whether or not Hoover got the point.

Although he certainly knew he was being scolded from every angle, I don't think he understood that the ball was off-limits to a little squirt of a newcomer such as himself.

Once Mac had control of the ball, all he really wanted to do was flaunt his ownership of it.  He taunted poor Heather mercilessly by making sure she could see it was Mac's ball now and forevermore!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mother's Day Dogs

It's kind of tough trying to celebrate Mother's Day a few months after your Mother passed away.  It's hard enough to celebrate Mother's Day when one of your children is in Africa and the other one is in California. What made Mother's Day a great day despite everything was celebrating with Socrates and Lexi.  In a very real sense, they are my kids, too!

Many people may have seen these photos before, but in honor of my Mother's Day, I am displaying them once again.  After all, who could resist these two cuties?

Socrates is my golden boy.  He is my magical, miraculous dog who transformed my universe the first time I saw him.  Socrates was adopted from Mutts4Rescue in Louisiana. An angel called April brought him into my world, and for that gift Tom and I will be forever grateful.

Our little love, Lexi, is a bundle of pure joy.  I defy anyone to watch her for more than a minute without falling in love with her.  She is funny, smart, sweet, and overflowing with kisses and cuddles.  Lexi is from Beaumont, Texas, and we have Cindy and Kate to thank for completing our family so perfectly.  

They both love to run and play the day away, but when they get home they're as good as gold.  We are well and truly blessed!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Nutmeg: A Real Spice Girl!

Now THIS is a stunningly beautiful dog!  Meet Nutmeg, younger sister of Cinnamon, and therefore known as one of the Spice Girls!

Nutmeg is large, friendly, toy-loving, and very happy as long as she doesn't have to share her favorite toy.  Socrates was a bit jealous that she took one of his toys, but not so jealous that he tried to take it back!  

Gemma was thrilled to have another girlfriend to pal around with.  Lexi is a bit too frisky for Gemma's taste, so Gemma chose to pal around with Nutmeg for a while instead.

Nutmeg is the largest dog in our Play Group right now.  She makes a fabulous Packmate, and she is also very good on leash if you have the right leash for her. Otherwise, Nutmeg is strong enough to pull your arm off!  

How could anyone resist that gorgeous grin?  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sox and the Big Stick

Socrates  never misses a chance to play his favorite game of stick chasing, but this time he overestimated his ability to run with a stick so large!

Little Mac seems a bit confused about the rules of the game.  Socrates is just confused about why he can't move with the stick in his mouth.

He is doing his level best to get the game going, but with limited success. He's not exactly racing around the yard!

It's as if they are playing chase in very slow motion.  They are barely reaching the speed of a slow stroll.

It is a conundrum, certainly.  All three dogs are putting their heads together to solve this one!