The Dog Days of Sophie

[Written by Mrs. McG]

My fur family has been so harmonious for so long, I guess I forgot what the real world is like. I committed a major feline etiquette breach this evening (at least I’m sparing you the “faux pas” puns…) When we brought Mickie home as a six-week-old kitten, she thought Lucy the Dog was the greatest kitten toy EVER. Sophie has been very Mickie-like so far, fearless warrior-kitten and all, so I didn’t expect any problems.

We hadn’t properly introduced Sophie and Lucy yet, but they’d seen and smelled each other through the back door with no apparent distress, so I thought this was just a formality. I picked Sophie up and opened the door, and Lucy bounced happily inside the house as usual. Feline freakout on my shoulder. I quickly took Sophie over to her cat condo where she’d hopefully feel safer. She hissed and spit and fuzzed up, but got to where she was relatively calm once Lucy settled down. She still fuzzed and hissed a little when Lucy came near, but was pretty much OK otherwise. Also, after I let Lucy back out, I picked Sophie up with some definitely Lucy-scented hands, and she didn’t seem to have a problem with that. So, I figure this’ll work itself out.

Update, April 15, 2017: This and all earlier-dated entries are collected from either my then-blog blogoSFERICS, or Mrs. McG’s onetime critterblog cats. iz. perverse.

I Think Lucy Doesn’t Like the Snow All That Much

I went out a couple of hours ago to take a little walk through the neighborhood, once the sleet had gone all the way over to snow and it was sticking pretty well. First thing I did was go around back to see if Lucy was outside or had barricaded herself in the basement against the advancing glaciers.

She was, in fact, just venturing out into the yard when I got around to the back, and she was definitely not so sure about this cold, wet white stuff on the ground. When she saw me she acted glad to see me as usual—but I could tell she thought I must be out of my mind to be outside in this stuff by choice.

She politely refrained from demanding to accompany me on my meanderings. I wonder why.

…But She’s Still An Incredible Dog!!

[Written by Mrs. McG]

OK, so Lucy and I won’t be heading to the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge anytime soon.

With Miss Lucy’s pre-August-2004 life a mystery to us, we have freely indulged in all sorts of speculation. Since she’s likely a Border Collie mix, I had wondered if she might have done any agility stuff in the past. Well, I think that’s been answered.

The Fayette County Humane Society held a fundraiser on Saturday, June 2nd, at the Peachtree City Dog Park. One of the many attractions brought in for the event was the Doggie Fun Zone, a traveling agility course specially designed so that dogs with no experience can run the course. A typical agility course contains a number of obstacles such as jumps and tunnels scattered about an area, and the handler must direct the dog through the obstacles in a specific pattern. Doggie Fun Zone had a definite course laid out with mesh fencing, directing the dog (and handler, sort of) through a maze that contained the jumps and so forth. There was also a lure line running through the course—a white cloth on a cord that would hopefully entice the dog to chase it through the obstacles. All in all, a pretty cool setup, and some of the dogs were barreling through the course for all they were worth.

Lucy chose that particular time to act like she knew how to heel.

Baby gates were set up between the sides of each obstacle and the mesh fencing, to ensure that the dog didn’t go around an obstacle. Handlers, however, were cautioned to go back and forth over the mesh as needed rather than over the baby gates. So I was doing quite a bit of awkward swinging over the mesh, while encouraging Lucy to stay on course. (Do as I say, not as I do.) The lure was of almost zero interest to her, and she was very content to wait around until I had finished my gymnastics to find out where I wanted her to go next. But to her credit, she didn’t balk at the tunnels as some dogs might—if she could see me calling her on the other side, she would happily trot through, and then continue to stick right with me until the next obstacle.

Our not-exactly-blistering run was capped off by Miss Congeniality’s noticing a group of dogs she wanted to meet just outside the Fun Zone, and she hopped right over the mesh fencing, missing the last tunnel. Honestly, instead of a cloth, I think the very best lure for her would have been one of the other dogs running through the course at top speed!

But, we’ll be ready for ‘em next time. Lucy doesn’t have any “fetch” instinct that I can detect, but we’ve been quite successful with a game called “Get The Treat!”, where I throw a dog treat across the yard and she runs after it, then comes back to me for another round. Not “fetch” exactly, but it’s a start. Maybe I’ll start tying the treat to a white cloth or something. We’ll get this figured out—she’s a smart girl, not to mention the best doggie in the ‘verse.


[Written by Mrs. McG]

I am continually amazed by Lucy. Maybe it’s just because she’s my first dog, but I dunno…

Over the weekend I was cleaning up the bedroom. Lucy found a small box, picked it up in her mouth and walked out of the room with it. Since that was exactly the sort of thing I was trying to collect and throw away, I griped,

“Aww, Lucy, bring that back here.”

She put the box down and came back to where I was.

Intrigued,  I went for broke. “No, go get that box and bring it back here.”

She did.

Massive hugs and praise ensued.

I know border collies are notorious for this kind of thing, but it’s amazing to see it in action.

ID (Intelligent Dog)

Lucy can be scary sometimes.

Just now sitting here at my computer I heard her do something uncharacteristic—bark like an ordinary stupid dog for no good reason. Normally if she’s just excited about seeing somebody in the next yard she will stand on the deck and wag her tail. If she gets overexcited she may give out with a bark or two and then shut up. But this was a veritable State of the Union speech by her standards.

So I went to the nearest window from which I could see her, and I opened the window so I could speak to her. In a matter-of-fact tone that an ordinary stupid dog would have interpreted as merely attention and therefore a reward, I informed Miss Lucy what I would do if she got into the habit of barking like that—the idea involves going to Petsmart and buying something to put on her.

An ordinary stupid dog would have stood there wagging and hung on every word.

Lucy put her head down and looked penitent. She either not only understands English but can parse compound sentences, or she’s psychic and picked up the mental image of what I was predicting as her fate.


Lucy likes a dog toy!

[Written by Mrs. McG]

This is quite remarkable, even though Lucy is an actual dog. Up until now she has shown no interest whatsoever in various dog toys we have brought her. Cat toys, however, are a big hit, but we have to take them away from her because they’re just not made to stand up to those jaws.

Then one night this week, she picked up a sock off the floor, I grabbed the other end, and a game of tug-of-war ensued. The sock was much the worse for wear afterward, so I decided to see if I could find something more appropriate. We had gotten her a hard figure-8-shaped rope thing before, and Kevin and I had played tug-of-war with it in front of her, making play growly noises to try and get her interested. (It was surprisingly fun, too!) She was pretty excited about the whole thing, but we never could get her to join in.

But this sock business got me wondering if she’d like something softer, so I found a big, soft knotted rope toy at Wal-Mart, and it’s a hit. She is some kind of fur-covered tractor, by the way: I keep threatening to hook her up to a sled, because she can really pull.

We ♥ Our Dog

And that’s why we ♠ our dog.

Lucy is resting comfortably at the vet after having surgery this morning. We get her back tomorrow morning, and will never again have to worry, if she should get loose again like she did while we were on vacation in Alaska (while she was in heat!), that she might come home in a puppy way.

As Chris’ e-mail signature once said, There aren’t enough homes for them all—spay or neuter your pet.

UPDATE: Lucy’s home and doing fine. We have pain pills to give her, and we need to watch her for a couple of weeks to make sure she doesn’t accidentally pull her stitches open—but other than that, all’s well.

Lucy Update

[Originally posted to blogoSFERICS]

We timed Lucy’s heartworm treatment so she could get her second round before we left on our Fairbanks trip, and have her follow-up test done after we got back. She got a clean bill of health on that, and although she seems a little out of shape from getting so little exercise (I can relate) we are working her up to a greater activity level.

The day before we left for Fairbanks, Lucy exhibited signs that she is, indeed, not yet spayed. While we were gone she managed to get out of the yard once, but so far it doesn’t look like she’s in a puppy way. She’s supposed to go in again in December for another round of vaccination booster shots, and we think we’ll arrange to have her spayed then, if she still appears not to be expecting. That appointment still needs to be made…

Chris also wants to get her into an obedience class fairly soon. Improving her response to commands is on my list of Things I Would Like Very Much™. She understands “Sit” reasonably well, but “Stay” still eludes her.

She’s getting along better with our smaller cat, Suzie Q, and Chris reports that Lucy and Taz, the big, cantankerous (neutered) tomcat, have managed to sniff noses without Taz doing his usual growling or hissing. So maybe they’re getting used to her. She has gone out of her way to be inoffensive to both cats, except during the very brief time when we were feeding Lucy in the house—she gets jealous of her food dish if a cat even goes near it. (Heck, she gets jealous of her food if she hears a fly buzzing near it.)

One thing has given clear indication that she used to be an indoor dog (aside from her almost <pun> spotless </pun> record): when she hears the doorbell, she runs to the door. One time she was here with me and the computer made a ‘ding’ sound. Lucy jumped to her feet and raced downstairs.

Well, that’s the Lucy report for now.

It’s Not a Fit Day Out for Man nor Beast

[Originally posted to blogoSFERICS]

Dustbury inspired the following, which was originally a comment left there:

I had to drop off our dog at the vet this morning. One of the outermost bands from Ivan was passing through the neighborhood when I opened the garage door. Lucy, who normally loves to go anywhere as long as she can show off her stylish harness and leash, took one look at the downpour and said, “On second thought, I think I’d rather stay in and eat bonbons.”

Unfortunately for her, we’d already paid ahead of time for this vet visit, so if she’s getting bonbons today it’s not at home. But I didn’t even have to say anything when I opened the door to the truck. I half expect the next time I need to take her anywhere in bad weather she’ll open the door herself.

I was going to post on this anyway, and that comment was too good to rewrite.

Anyway, today Lucy’s getting the next (we hope, last) bit of heartworm treatment—this time to kill off the immature worms that might have survived, or hatched since, her first treatment four weeks ago. For some time after we brought her home from the first treatments, she was tired and uncomfortable, but she bounced back very quickly and has been her usual frisky self for most of the time since. In fact, I thought it would be worth the risk yesterday to let her out into the yard for a romp, which she enjoyed very much though. We’ll probably have to keep her confined until she’s pronounced completely cured (hopefully October 4), but after that…

That girl needs exercise, and obviously enjoys it.

UPDATE: Lucy is home and in excellent spirits—no apparent discomfort.

Lucy Goes to the Vet

[Originally posted to blogoSFERICS]

Lucy’s got her shots and a rabies tag, as well as a flea-and-tick treatment that should actually work, unlike the retail treatment Chris bought and we applied shortly after we first got her. We received reassurance about some of the things we’d noticed about her—a dewclaw that was growing the wrong way, a couple of bare patches on her chest that the vet called “hot spots,” and so on.

She did not, however, begin a heartworm preventative, having tested positive for those potentially deadly parasites. The vet is sure we caught the infestation early enough that we don’t even need to be in a massive hurry to get her treated (though we will start the treatment as soon as feasible). The treatment will take a grand total of about six weeks, during which we need to keep her confined and her activity level down. And it makes sense that we keep her activity level down until we can get her started on the treatment. So no more of those running-hellbent-for-leather romps I discovered she likes. And maybe after the ‘worms are all gone and we can resume those romps, she’ll take longer to decide she’s had enough anyway.

The vet also couldn’t find any sure indication that she’s been spayed, and he thinks she may have had a litter of puppies once upon a time. Oh, and although I had thought she could be four to six years old, the vet says more like 2½. So it isn’t just that she’s an unusually cheerful middle-aged dog who tires easily because she’s getting old, she’s a cheerful young dog who tires easily because she’s not altogether well. But she will be. And I thought it was hard keeping up with her now.

Anyway, after the heartworm treatment we’ll get her spayed, and then we think we might go ahead and have her implanted with an ID chip.


[Originally posted to blogoSFERICS]

Well, we’ve picked up another stray, and this one appears to really be a stray. In the photos she looks a lot better than she did when she followed one of my wife’s co-workers (see comment) home a few days ago—she’s been bathed and exercised since. The red collar she’s wearing is all there is, no tag, no tattoos, no distinguishing characteristics.

I’m estimating her age at four or five years; she has no gray at the muzzle yet but her collar, though loose about her neck, has been on its current setting quite some time. We figure she’s been wandering loose for some time but she was quite happy to hang around at my wife’s co-worker’s house before we came and picked her up. Part of that, though, may be because we were having something of a heat wave until yesterday, and we’ve noticed she really doesn’t like to be out in the heat.

She’s got some very minor problem behaviors, the nature of which lead me to believe she may not have been an only dog at her former home. She likes to jump up on people but we’re working on breaking her of that. She will often respond to a whistle but when she gets far enough away only a loud, stern yell will bring her back. Out of habit I yell “Dog!” but it’s possible any word will do, including a name. We’ve taken to calling her Lucy

She appears to be at least half border collie, and someone suggested to my wife yesterday there might also be some lab blood. Despite the picture at left (pictures appeared in the original post), her ears really look more border-collie-like than lab-like.

My wife’s co-worker says he and his family asked around in the neighborhood where they found her to find out if anyone knew where she belongs, but had no luck. Yet unless she’s just a stocky dog she seems to be a little overweight, which wouldn’t suggest she’d been on her own for all that long. Yet she at least hadn’t been bathed in quite a while and I suspect her previous family either didn’t have much time for her or simply didn’t know how to discourage unwanted behaviors and teach such basic things as sit and stay. We hope she’s not too old to learn.

And yes, that does mean we expect to keep her.