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A conundrum

One of the reason I house sit is that I love dogs. So, I house sit to be with dogs as I have none of my own now. The problem with this develops when I find a dog at work that particularly touches my heart. So far, I've fallen head over paws for Stanley & Tracy, their mom Maxie (who was adopted by a friend of mine, so I at least am able to see her now and again), Frances, Francis, Cutie, and Montagu. Now, I've fallen for a small cocker spaniel cross named Tupac. Tupac thinks I'm the bee's knees, launching himself out of his cage whenever it's time to go outside to play. He attended the St. Francis Day service at St. Christper's Chruch with me. He behaved beautifully and everyone fell in love with him! How the people who were supposed to be adopting him could have not bothered to come and pick him up is beyond me. The friend who has Maxie keeps encouraging me to adopt Tupac, but I can't. I'd need a house sitter while I house at which wuold defeat the purpose of house sitting. I hope Tupac finds an awesome home.
2013-09-12 Tupac2013-09-29 st francis service 024

Changes, Changes

I've been house sitting at one particular house for about twelve years now.  I was here for Kaiser and Tequila, then Jameson and Tequila after Kaiser died, then just Jameson after Tequila died.  This time, the two dogs are Clutha and Jazz, and it feels as though I'm in a completely new house.
Kaiser, Tequila, and Jameson were all German Shepherds.  Clutha is a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  Jazz is a boxer.  Both are under a year old and very high energy at times. Other times, they'll sleep for hours!  Where the Shepherds were all 'fluffy' dogs, these two are smooth-haired and very solid.
Tequila loved to swim.  Jameson hated the water but would run around the pool in circles while I swam.  Both liked to chase tennis balls thrown from the pool.  Clutha and Jazz ignore me completely when I go swimming.
Jameson loved to go walking, and even in her old age, so did Tequila.  The first few days I was here, I couldn't convince either Clutha or Jazz that walks were good.  They eventually got over that, and we do go out twice a day.  Thankfully, though both are strong, they don't pull quite as much as Jameson and Tequila used to.
They're both lovely pups in their own way, but I have to admit, I miss Jameson and Tequila.

Jim-Jam Pyjamas

(With apologies to Gina Wilson who wrote the original version.)

He wears blotchy jim-jam pyjamas.
You never saw jim-jams like those.
A fine-fitting, stretchy, fur dogsuit,
Skin-tight from his head to his toes.

He wears blotchy jim-jam pyjamas,
Black and brown, and dashingly gay.
He makes certain that everyone sees them
By keeping them on all the day.

He wears blotchy jim-jam pyjamas.
He walks with a smug puppy stride.
There's no hiding his pride in his jim-jams,
With their big blotchy marks on each side.

He wears blotchy jim-jam pyjamas
And pauses at times to display
The effect as he stretches his torso,
And he fancies he hears people say,

"I wish I had jim-jam pyjamas.
I wish I were canine and trim.
Oh, look at that brave German Shepherd!
Oh, how I should love to be him, be him.
Oh, how I should love to be him!"

R.I.P. Jameson
February 6, 2003 - December 14, 2011

Not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

     I house sit a German Shepherd named Jameson. Jameson comes from Germany and is the largest Shepherd I've ever encountered. He's from a family of show dogs and was one inch too high to fit the standard so he was left pretty much to his own devices for the first six months of his life. Then, he was adopted by the people in Nassau and came here to keep Tequila company after Kaiser died.

     Jameson is gorgeous. Had he ended up as a show dog, he would probably have won honours galore. His coat is thick and full. When he runs around the yard bringing back tennis balls, his gait is a glide, with only the paws moving. I could watch him walk like that for hours. Jameson's only drawback?

     He is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He looks intelligent but he's not. Oh, in some ways he is. All these years later and I can still get him to reply to commands in German, but in others areas, he has a lot to learn.

     Jameson has a tennis ball obsession. He loves to chase thrown tennis balls. He hasn't quite figured out yet that he needs to actually let go of the ball so that you can throw it for him. He spooks at things most dogs would casually ignore. This morning, he spooked at the black garbage bag that I have over my car window. I had to walk him up to the car and show him that it was a garbage bag, not some menacing black creature from space that would steal all his tennis balls. 

     Jameson is now five. Before he settled into his new home, he chewed through two sofas, eight cushions, a mattress and a duvet.  He continues to have severe separation anxiety. When I walk Tequila, Jameson sits in the window and howls. He howls until we reappear and then he greets us at the kitchen door acting as though we've been gone forever, when we've really only been gone about 5 minutes (Tequila is very old and cannot do long walks). You would think that after this many years, he would know that she's coming back, but no. He howls. His owners are quite concerned about what will happen when Tequila eventually dies.

     So, that's Jameson. Jameson, who chomps water in a bucket instead of lapping it. Jameson, who is sure he's going to drown if he falls in the pool. Jameson, who thinks that if you're killing mosquitoes, he has to get in on the act. His favourite song? The Hamster Dance! He howls and barks whenever I play it or sing it. He is definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

[This post dedicated to birdie, who, unlke Jameson, is pretty sharp, and I'm glad to call her my friend!]

Are You Sure You're a Cat?

I'm covered in fur. I have four paws and a long fuzzy tail. I have whiskers and am unable to say words as humans can. I will greet you at the door when you come home and vocalize loudly to be sure you know I'm glad to see you. I'll walk you to the table to set down your keys. I will practically trip you as you try to walk over to the food cupboard to feed me. I will eat a bit then comes over for some love and attention then I'll vocalize some more. "More food?" you'll ask. No. "More water, or maybe an ice cube in that water?" No. "Love and attention?" Yes, please, lots of love and attention and if you can keep doing that while I go over here to eat some more, I'll be your friend for life. Then, when I'm done, I'll come and curl up at your feet while you read.

These are all behaviours I associate more with the dogs that I house sit, but this description belongs to one very sociable cat!

Love is Better than Food

At the last place I house sat, there were two dogs and two cats. I wasn't doing my usual sleepover at this house, but a daily dropping in. I don't really like just dropping in, but such is life. I don't think the animals get enough attention when I'm only dropping in! The two dogs are outside and the two cats are in and outside with a cat hole to come in through.

Both dogs love attention, as do both cats. However, the younger dog thinks more of love and attention than he does of food! He's all excited when you put down the bowl, but he won't eat until you pet him on the head and tell him he's a good dog. He'll eat a few mouthfuls then put his head up again, wanting more petting. Sometimes he'll repeat this two or three more times before finally settling in to eat. Can you imagine if we humans did the same?

Mad Dogs and Ankle Biters

Well, only one of each really –

The mad dog is a Labrador, a black one, named Bilbo. Normally placid and quite friendly, he undergoes a startling metamorphosis when faced with a human in a swimming pool. Bilbo loves to swim at the beach. He thinks the pool is a pit of hell that is going to swallow up the humans he is meant to be protecting. When you swim, Bilbo runs around the pool in circles, barking hysterically. The more he barks, the more spittle forms around his mouth making him look quite rabid by the time your swim is over. His tongue seems twice as large, and you wonder if you’ll make it out of the pool alive; however, when you emerge from the pool, he goes inside calmly as if nothing unusual has happened!

The ankle biter is a small female ginger cat named Tabu. Tabu is Swahili for trouble, but generally she isn’t any. She likes to torment Bilbo at night so she sleeps in her own room. When you open the door in the morning, she walks out and then reaches over with her paws, encircles your foot and starts gnawing on your ankle, or your toes, or whatever part of your foot is closest to her mouth. When you go around the living room, opening or closing hurricane shutters, she lies in wait by the round table in the centre of the room and pounces at you as you walk by. When you try to pet her, she transfers her ankle biting skills to your hands, so be careful when you pet.

Together, the two do not often go out in the noonday sun, but their owners are Englishmen. Hmm…

Birds of a feather...

These past few days I have been house sitting one dog and four birds.  The dog is no trouble at all.  She doesn't even need to be walked so she's really low maintenance for a dog which is unusual.  The birds, on the other hand, need a lot more attention.  It's not only the feeding and changing the water; there's also the changing of newspapers and the individualized nuts each day.  This one eats pistachios, the next one eats peanuts, the next almonds.  They shriek loudly in anticipation of these treats.  They talk.  Well, two of the birds talk.  I was sitting outside one day, and there was a very insistent "Let me out" coming from inside the bird room.  The same bird also repeats the name of the dog who has died and the name of one of the owners.  The macaw says the same name, and a very polite "Hello."  I've been trying to teach the two birds to say my name which happens to be the name of the other owner.  Neither one seems to have picked it up yet, but maybe one day they will.  I sing to the birds in the morning  Each one has an individualized verse.  I whistle to them in the afternoon.  I talk to them in the evening.  In the wee small hours of the morning (about 4 a.m.) I hear what I think is the birds, but it's the local mockingbird, copying them.  It is most distracting when I'm trying to sleep!  Good night all you birdy-birds...

Writer's Block: Gamer's Choice

What is your favorite old-school video game?
Pong.  State-of-the-art, classy, black-and-white.  The line goes up, the line goes down.  A little tiny white square drifts across your screen, and hopefully the line meets it and sends it back.  Mesmerizing, addictive, and totally time-wasting!

Beach doggies

The house I am sitting now lies on a canal in a development called Sandyport.  When I went out on the canal beach with the dogs here this afternoon, the ripple-splash told me I'd startled a sizeable fish!  Most of the fish that congregate at this beach are small, about 1" and blend in so well with the sand that you don't see them until they move.  Two days ago, a six pack of bigger fish, about 7" long, came circling in, stirring up sand and munchies, so I watched them for a while before coming back in.  The spring high tides practically swamp the beach and leave the dogs very little room to do their business.  But when the tide is out, there's plenty of room for romping and digging and wild dog chases!