Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trick Or Treat!

Trick or Treat

Dogs and Halloween, now there are two words to scare the bejeezers out of me. It’s a great time to keep your pet safe indoors and watch closely the candy you have placed near your door for little visitors. I have six unruly dogs when it comes to company and food.

My house does not sound goblin friendly when you walk past it. Six dogs sit in the picture window waiting to alert me of any movement they detect on the street. My fifties ranch is nestled behind tall loblolly pines, far from the road, in a quiet area by a dead end street. The window is floor to ceiling, and wide enough for six bodies to squirm, and wiggle past the table and chair immediately in front of it, to sit and watch. Their eyesight is keen. I never know which dog starts to bark, but you can be sure, five follow. I shudder wondering what the neighbors think as the crescendo starts to escalate.

The howling from my dogs on any given night makes the Hound of the Baskervilles seem demure. Halloween is an especially devilish time when my dogs are more aware of the little children that are crossing the street in front of my house. Their small shadows dart back and forth in the glow of the moon.  I wonder what monster they fear lies behind my closed door. For they never make the walk up my driveway. They just hear the sounds of my hellhounds echoing into the night and walk in the other direction.

“A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smoldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I still buy candy, but end up eating most of it myself, while whispering to the dogs, shhhh. They pay no attention and bark until I turn off the lights and sit by the soft glow of my TV, waiting for the evening events to subside. Their interest then turns to snuggling down under the quilts I have strategically placed over my leather chairs. Only then can I switch on the lights and breath a sigh of relief.

Halloween is actually a favorite holiday for me. I have just learned to appreciate it behind the scenes, keeping six dogs at bay.

Several thoughts come to mind to make Halloween safer for everyone.

Keep your candy out of reach of sniffing dog noses. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and many candies contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, than can also be deadly to dogs. Don't leave candy wrappers where your dog can snarf them up. It would be easy for a dog to choke on these yummy castoffs.

I know my dogs are super friendly, but when strangers approach, I err on the side of caution. Even the calmest dog can be startled by a quick move from someone new.

When I was an antique dealer, doing the Lakewood Antique show each month, I was amazed at how many parents allowed their children to just reach out and touch someone else’s dog. As an adult, I still ask permission before I pet a dog I’ve just met. I want to give that courtesy to other dog owners that I would like for myself. Then it is a free for all when I get the OK to approach. Puppy dog tails and kisses fly through the air.

From my collection of Halloweenie doggies!  Early postcards to celebrate a holiday that is enchanting and magical.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

A walk down memory lane with my late dog Jake
I started walking outdoors today. The air had a little snap to it, so I opened up my windows and turned on the attic fan. Oh the heavenly smell of fresh air as it danced around my head. Six dogs took notice of it too. Normally sprawled out on my chairs and couch, six bellies up in the air, six dogs suddenly started to come to life. They watched with keen interest as I laced up my New Balance walking shoes. Bray, my timid black Afghan mix, actually pranced around the living room. Chloe, the Chi, noisy as ever, yapped loudly, dashing back and forth across the floor. Dear Foxy, my old dog, now thirteen, raised her head from the floor. I heard it thump back down as she decided if it wasn't time to eat, she was not moving her thin, frail body. Annabelle, the old hound dog/beagle mix, just yawned and put her head back under the throw pillow. She is a whenever dog. By that I mean, she only moves whenever she feels like it. The air got her nose out from under her pillow. That was the most movement from her since breakfast, when she ate, and crawled back on the couch. Of course Rascal, the bull dog mix, and Miss April In Paris, my hunting dog mix, ran for the back door, tripping over each other, popping out onto the patio in a frenzy of barking. Chloe ran behind them and the three dogs raced for the back yard.

I slipped out the front door. I wanted to take a walk and enjoy a bit of quiet. It was such a glorious afternoon I wanted to drink in all the delights that come with the beginning of fall. I am sure this was a false start, as the weather is due to warm up again. But for today, I was in heaven.

I headed up the street looking at my neighbors yards and a familiar feeling came over me. I remembered walking my old dog Jake on that triangle where the street deadends into my yard. Jake and I would head down the driveway, walk up one side of the street, only a short distance, cross over and come back to the house. The huge Rosemary bush would leave Jake smelling heavenly as he stumbled against it and rubbed his nose on the short spiked branches. I stumbled into it myself today. I must admit, I came home smelling yummy.

Jake. My dog who had to be walked with a rear end sling. I only had two dogs then. Jake, my ninety-five pound German Shepherd, a dog that had showed up in my yard eight years earlier and Foxy, the dainty German Shepherd/Malamute mix who came to the house as a seven week puppy.

Jake's legs were not working well, then not working at all. He had a neurological problem, not hip dysplasia. But he liked to get out and exercise those legs. Some days he'd make it back fine, other days he'd stop and I'd have to put a sling under his hind end, and haul his butt up the driveway. Then there were the days he would just sit and smile at the sky. I had to roll the wheelbarrow down the drive and scoop him into it. A task easier said then done. Jake left me April 2009. A month later, dogs starting moving in from the local shelters!

Thinking of Jake today brought back so many memories. He was a happy dog and loved life. He didn't care he couldn't walk. He just loved to sit and be part of the family. It is amazing how memories can be triggered by the smallest things. Today a fall breeze was all it took.

I pulled out a few old photos of Jake and Foxy. Foxy has aged so in the last year, but I didn't need photos to know that. You can feel her bones when you run your hand across her side. She still holds her own with the new dogs. I remember someone saying to me that month that Jake left, "Maybe you shouldn't get another dog. Foxy is old and it may be more than she can handle."

I am glad I didn't listen to that. But when do I ever listen to advice? The new dogs keep Foxy active. So don't be fooled by that old wives' tale.

Today's walk, the smell of the air, the hint of fall, was more than a walk to enjoy the day. I had a walk down memory lane with my old pal Jake. His  smile was as bright in my mind as it was when I hauled his butt up the drive with a sling and a wheelbarrow.

Jake enjoying the ride.

Foxy and Jake on another fall day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ghosts Of Dogs Past - Victorian Cabinet Cards

The Cabinet card was the style of photograph which was universally adopted for photographic portraiture in 1870. It consisted of a thin photograph that was generally mounted on cards measuring 4¼ by 6½ inches.

Do you ever look at old photos of people and their pets and wonder what story is behind a picture? I love the old cabinet card photos. Such proper portraits that show the styles, dress and proper attitude of the
Victorian age. The ghosts of children looking so somber with their favorite pet. How difficult do you think it was for the photographer to get them to sit still long enough for to capture the picture?  Don't you know the children wanted to just sit on the floor and hug their dogs!

For your viewing pleasure some lovely time worn old images.

Top Photo From England

Now here is a dog waiting to be kissed!