Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Range

My sister recently told me that she likes Teddy more than Ranger.  I sometimes feel that way as well, but I'm hard pressed to say why - he still won't sit on my lap, flattens himself to the ground if he thinks I'm going to pick him up, and doesn't pay attention to a word I say (unless the word is treat or outside.)  Although Teddy still follows right on my heels wherever I walk, I don't always feel like he and I are on the same planet.  Or maybe we are on the same planet, but not in the same country.  But he is so adorable and needy and helpless that I can't help falling in love with him. 

Ranger, however, was very easy to love from the beginning.  He was a puppy and therefore cute and adorable, and smart as a whip, so it was easy and fun to train him.  He listens to every word I say with his head tilted to one side, and seems to understand exactly what I mean.  He knows my routines and my habits better than anyone - sometimes I feel like I don't need to say a word as he knows what I'm going to do next.  So I feel disloyal to him when sometimes I prefer Teddy.  I owe many of the good things in my life to Ranger.  He has gotten me out into the world.  It's very easy as a single person to cocoon yourself in your house or in your work, but Ranger has helped me to stay involved in the world.  He helped introduce me to my neighbors and meet new people on our walks and through our agility work.  Without him, Ginger, Ike, Gracie, Ava, Teddy, and Duffy  might have had very different lives.  He's always a good conversation piece - if I don't know someone well, or don't have anything else to talk about, I can always bring up Ranger.  He also is good at filling my time - he loves a good walk or a trip to the store, and there is usually some dog event every so often that he enjoys going to.  He also has helped keep me involved with my family - everybody loves him, and I don't dare show up at a family gathering without both dogs.  So I guess I'm feeling a little like a mother who just had her second child - it's not that I don't love Ranger as much, it's that my heart has gotten bigger to hold the love I have for both of them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thunder and lightning

Having had water issues with 2 different houses, I always dread summer storms.  Now that I have Teddy, I have even more reason to dread storms - thunder and lightning.  Ranger has never been bothered by thunderstorms, but Teddy is scared senseless.  He paces and pants, and wants to be touching me, which is something he never does under normal circumstances.  When storms happen during the day, I usually create a cave for him by draping a blanket over a chair, and he lies underneath it, feeling safe and secure.  At night, however, lightning is more visible, and thunder is very loud in my second floor bedroom, so a cave doesn't always help.  However,  my dog guru, Victoria Stillwell, suggested rubbing a dryer sheet on a dog who is afraid of storms, as it helps reduce the static electricity they feel.  I've been doing that with Teddy, and I think we are making progress.  The last few storms he has been better.  Last night, he was under the bed, where he frequently sleeps, storms or no, and when the storm started, he came out to sit by my side of the bed.  I reached down to pet him and he went back under the bed, where he stayed for the rest of the night.  No pacing, no panting, no burrowing under my sheets.  I don't know whether he actually slept, but I know I did!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The return of the Flippy Flopper

One of Ranger's favorite toys is a Frisbee call the Flippy Flopper.  The toy lasts only a few months before it is destroyed (Ranger thinks his toys are live animals he must kill, so toys don't always last long in our house) but in the past, I was always able to stock up on the Flippy Flopper.  However, sometime last year, the only store that carried it STOPPED STOCKING IT!!!  So the Flippy Flopper limped along, until it was no longer safe for the dogs to have, and I reluctantly had to throw it away.  It was even a toy Teddy loved.  I don't know what is so special about it, but I think there must be something like crack for dogs sewn into the fabric.  Teddy will chew it for hours, and Ranger will 'kill' it for a very long time.  I found a frisbee that looked just like the Flippy Flopper, and bought several of them.  However, when I gave them to the dogs, while the enjoyed it, it wasn't with the same obsession as the Flippy Flopper.  Earlier this week, someone told me they saw the Flippy Flopper in a pet store, so I quickly went over there, and lo and behold - THE FLIPPY FLOPPER!!  I bought all 4, and told the owner she had to keep these in stock for me, as they are my dogs favorite toy.  When I came home from work, I took the toy out of the bags, and Ranger's ears immediately perked up.  He remembered!  He was jumping all over me to get to his long lost friend, and of course, Teddy imitated him, not really knowing why he was doing it.  I took them both outside and threw one frisbee for each of them, and I wished I had recorded the moment.  The joy on their faces!  I went back inside to get my camera, and hopefully I'll have some video loaded by this weekend.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teddy's magic chair

I've had Teddy for 18 months now, and he still is not comfortable sitting on my lap, EXCEPT for when we are at my sister's house, sitting in her recliner.  I'm not sure what it is about the recliner, but it is the only chair in the entire world that Teddy will willingly jump up and sit on someone's lap.  I really have no idea why - it's a nice soft leather, it rocks gently and swivels (which one would think he wouldn't like) and it belongs to my brother-in-law, who Teddy runs from.  I guess it's all part of Teddy's mystery, along with his attraction to my liquor cabinet and his fasination with my cannister vacuum.  Some things we'll never have the answer to!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ranger is a bully

Every morning after our walk, Ranger is full of energy and is ready to play, and Teddy still needs his cup of coffee to get going.  And every morning the same thing happens - Ranger jumps all over Teddy, trying to get him to play, and Teddy ignores him. This starts as we walk up the driveway.  I always take their leashes off when we are one house away, to give them a little freedom and to help train them to stay with me, which they always do.  As soon as we get to the driveway, Ranger starts jumping all over Teddy, growling at him (in a playful way), and just generally being a bully.  Teddy just keeps walking along, ignoring the dog that is doing everything he can to get Teddy's attention.  It continues in the house.  Poor Teddy tries so hard to climb the stairs to get to his water bowl, and Ranger tries everything to stop him.  Finally Teddy will make it up the stairs, and Ranger is hot on his heels.  After a few minutes of grabbing Teddy by the neck, jumping on him, growling at him, Ranger finally gives up, and lays down on the couch in defeat.  He wants so badly to play in the morning, and Teddy is just not a morning dog.  In fact, Ranger gets up around 5 and jumps into bed with me.  He sniffs my face, to make sure it's really me, and then goes back to sleep.  Around 6:30, he heads downstairs to look out his window, waiting for us to come down for our walk.  Teddy, however, is still snoring away when I get out of bed, and would probably sleep until noon if I let him.  Poor Ranger.  He just wants to play in the morning, and Teddy is not at all interested.  In other aspects, their relationship is good, so I guess if there is going to be a problem, this is not a bad one to have.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I hate fireworks!

And so does Teddy.  If he is inside the house, he barely notices them, but trying to get him to do his business outside at night when neighbors on all sides are setting off fireworks is next to impossible.  No, not next to impossible - actually impossible!  I am sorry to admit that I lost my temper with him on Saturday and probably made the situation worse.  I think I was more angry with neighbors settiing of fireworks, but since Teddy would be the one who would pee on my carpet in the middle of the night, he got the brunt of my frustration.  He spent Saturday night in a crate, until the fireworks stopped around 2, and I was able to convince him to go outside.  Sunday night, I let him out later in the evening than I normally do, around 7, and tried again around 9, but fireworks were starting by then and it was a lost cause.  So I put up the baby gate in my room, and he slept until morning with no accidents.  Hopefully tonight will be much quieter and we will all sleep well! 

Needless to say, Ranger is not bothered by fireworks at all.  When he was a bit younger, they did bother him, but he spent one 4th of July with his doggie cousin, who is not afraid of anything, and I think he overcame his fear by watching her.  Ever since, he has not reacted to fireworks at all.  Hopefully Ranger will have the same effect on Teddy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy, tired dogs

Napping, after a long day sitting by the pool  Enough said.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My baby's growing up

Today I hosted a cookout for Father's Day, and Teddy was amazing (ok - not truly amazing, but the progress he's made is remarkable.) My sister's in-laws are in town, and they brought their dog, Rudy (Ranger's brother) over for lunch. All 3 dogs get along, and had fun playing together. The amazing part was that Teddy was not scared of any of the men. He now goes directly to my brother-in-law, and even sat on his lap for several minutes, which is something he still doesn't really do with me. During dinner, he sat right next to my sister's father-in-law, hoping for some steak to drop, and licked his fingers clean without any fear. He let my nephews pet him, and didn't run away from them. It made me think of how he was this time last year, when he hid under the dining room table, and ran from the room when a man walked in. He was relaxed and playful - like a normal dog, which is something I thought I'd never say!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Teddy is banned from agility

No, not an official banishment, but until his behavior improves, I have imposed a ban. He pulled the same stunt this past Thursday that he did the previous week - he barked, and Ranger ran off the course. I could see the struggle in Ranger's eyes - he wanted to obey me and come back to me when I called him, but he also wanted to see what Teddy wanted. Ultimately, Teddy won. Ranger ended up in a crate (one up high, no less, which he hates) and he faced the wall the entire time (his choice, not mine!) When it was our turn to run again, he did much better. Teddy barked and Ranger wanted to go to him, but my treats, and the threat of more time in the crate, won out and we finished.

There's no class this week, but next week, I may bring a friend, with strict instructions to have her remove Teddy from the room if he barks. I hate to leave Teddy at home, as socializing during class has helped him tremendously, but I'm paying money for Ranger to take the class, and if he runs off the course, I've wasted my money, and that drives me nuts. Hopefully my plan will work.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ranger and agility

Ranger has been back in agility for a few months now. Teddy was just too stressed out by the people, and I felt like I was torturing him, so I pulled him out of class and put Ranger in his place. Teddy was very relieved. He likes going to the place where agility class is held, but only for the treats people give him, not to do any actual work. Last week at class, I was running Ranger on a course, and I heard Teddy bark twice. We were doing the weave poles, and on hearing his brother bark, Ranger stopped in his tracks, looked to where Teddy was, and ran off the course, directly to Teddy, to see what was wrong. He has never run off the course before during a run, so I was a little surprised. I suspect that Teddy was concerned because he couldn't see where we were (a tunnel was right in front of him blocking his view) and he was calling for his brother to help him. I was not happy that Ranger left the course, but when I walked back to them, both dogs had such a happy look on their faces that I couldn't stay mad for very long. We have class again tonight. I hope we don't have a repeat performance!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Teddy's haircut

Teddy got his summer buzz cut this past weekend, and I have to say he is absolutely adorable. Ranger always looks better with his hair a little long, but Teddy gets a 'fro when his hair is long and it makes him look much bigger than he really is. When his hair is long, he looks like a bulldog, or a linebacker, but after he goes to the groomer, he looks so tiny. It's like getting a brand new dog every two months! Every morning as I put his leash on (a process he is still afraid of, by the way) I wrap my hands around his tiny head, and tell him he is so cute that I just want to eat him up. I just wish I could get Ranger and Teddy on the same grooming schedule, but Ranger's hair grows much slower, so he only needs to go every 3 months, while Teddy has to go every 2 months. Poor dog!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ranger!

Ranger is 8 years old today. While I occasionally see signs that he is getting older, he is still the playful little dog he was as a puppy. The play sessions just don't last as long as they used to, and I have to admit, I'm a little relieved about that. Who really wants to play tug-of-war for an hour? And lucky for Ranger his fur has been gray since he was little - he doesn't have to worry about that additional sign that he's getting old, something I've been battling for a few years now. It's hard to believe that I've had him for this long. I barely remember my life without him always being there. Sometimes I wonder what I will do when he leaves me. I can't imagine ever getting another dog to replace him. I adopted Teddy more for Ranger than for me, and while I love Teddy, we haven't had the connection that Ranger and I have. Ranger is one of those dogs that sometimes seems more human than dog, while Teddy is all dog all the time. I've read that there are 'once-in-a-lifetime' dogs, and I think that is what Ranger is to me.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Teddy and agility

As mentioned in previous posts, Teddy started agility this year. I'm doing this not for the glory of winning, but because I'm trying to give Teddy the confidence he needs to live a happier life. I had to keep reminding myself of that at the first few classes, because I felt like I was torturing Teddy instead of helping him. At one point, I asked the instructor if I was being cruel by making him do something he clearly wasn't enjoying, and she said since he wasn't running out of the ring and was still taking treats, I should keep trying. And I'm glad we stuck with it. The first few classes were rough, and I was sweaty and exhausted at the end of the night. For a few classes, I brought Ranger with us, and when Teddy seemed especially nervous, I would bring Ranger into the ring and have him do the obstacle. Once Teddy saw Ranger doing it, he instantly felt more comfortable and would copy whatever Ranger did.

The last class is a run-through of a course, in front of the entire class. I was very nervous about how Teddy would do. We had been able to put 6 obstacles together the previous week, but would he be able to do 14 obstacles, in front of lots of people? Would he move freely from one obstacle to the next, or would I have to carry him? If there is one thing Teddy has taught me, it is to always keep the faith. He exceeded my expectations. The entire class was cheering by the time we finished. No, we didn't break any speed records, and we skipped a few of the obstacles he hadn't been trained on, but he did everything I asked of him. He ran (trotted quickly, really) next to me, went through the tunnel like he had been doing it all his life, and walked on the dog walk like it was no big deal. We had the chance to run the course again, so I did, just to prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke, and he did even better. He seemed to realize what we were doing and did the first 4 obstacles with very little prompting from me. So we signed up for another session, which starts next week. My little champion! We may win a ribbon yet!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

10 things I love about Ranger

  1. He's a good listener, and he doesn't judge.
  2. He loves to snuggle. He's a great electric blanket.
  3. He does agility not because he loves it but because it makes me happy.
  4. He's never met a person he didn't like.
  5. I never have to clean my kitchen floor when he's around.
  6. I love the way he tilts his head when I talk to him, as if he understands every word.
  7. He welcomed Teddy into our home and became his best friend from day one.
  8. He is always ready to play, and he gets me out into the world.
  9. He has no sense of humor whatsoever, which is an odd thing to love, but his lack of humor always makes me laugh.
  10. Did I mention he loves to snuggle?