Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Floor Whisperer

In a previous post, I wrote of my first experience with dog daycare. But I neglected to explain why I had to be off premises for the day -- and indeed the next day as well. 

It all seemed to start with that unnerving cleaning and moving of possessions. The fridge wasn't the only one hit. Dusty shelves were cleared, drawers removed, and places were scrubbed that probably haven't seen soap since Queen Victoria played fetch with her dog Dash. I kept a low profile, to be safe. 

When I came home from daycare that first day, the kitchen door was shut for the first time since I took up residence. The little brown dog was banned from the best room in the house. 

Mysterious smells of fresh wood wafted under the door. I sensed a presence - or the lingering scent of a visitor now departed. I was perplexed, to say the least. 

Then I remembered a stranger named Bob.

Bob had visited a month or so ago. I remember him well because he was invited in - rather than chased off like other clipboard-wielding folks who knock on our door. Bob started exploring the house like a hound. Seriously, he had his nose to the ground like the best of us -- scanning rooms, peering into corners, cocking his head in contemplation. 

"Tell me about this." he said gesturing to the living room floor. I studied the empty floor. What did he see? 

There was nothing there.

It was then that I realized that Bob was some kind of psychic. He must sense a presence from the other side -- right at the edge of our living room. My hackles rose. Was there spirit in the living room next to my favorite TV nap spot? I always thought that draft came from the chimney.

"Oh..." said Susan blushing. "We move the chair back and forth to watch TV." Huh?

Bob's expression stayed completely neutral, but I could sense his bottled tension. "Stop by the shop and get some chair pads." would chair pads help banish a spirit? I've watched "Ghostbusters" with the boys plenty of times and there were never any pads involved.  
Bob resembles Peter Venkman only a little.
But I think they are in the same line of work.
I trotted after them as they went upstairs. Bob stopped on the threshold of Boy#2's room.

"That's strange," Bob said, frowning slightly. Bob was staring at another blank spot on the floor. My hackles rose again and a growl rose in my throat. I prepared to make a break for it. "You have water damage. That is a very strange spot to have water damage. What happened there?"

"Uh...where? I don't see it," Susan said, worry furrowing her brow. 

Oh my gods, I thought, a water spirit lives next to my kennel!

Bob doesn't look at all like
the Ghost Whisperer.
But I think they would have
plenty to talk about.
"Right there. You can see the boards are cupped with the moisture." Bob walked over to the spot and laid his hand on it. "Feel it... Can't you feel it?"
Bob looks nothing like either of these gentlemen.
But he seemed to read the floor's morphology like a trained phrenologist.
I leaned closer and sniffed. I could smell a whiff of dampness. Susan reached out tentatively and touched the spot on the wood floor. I wanted to drag her away, Lassie-style. Don't touch the ectoplasm, Susan! 

"Oh, dear," she said, "But what could possibly cause water damage in the middle of the bedroom? There aren't any pipes under there." And no, that spot wasn't my fault. I pee outside...mostly.

"Well, I can't work on that until it dries out," said Bob. "You'll have to track down the source. Maybe it was a one-time event." 

Geez, I hope so! I sleep a foot away. In a locked box.

Bob went back downstairs and looked around the kitchen some more, measuring it and taking notes. "This is a pretty straight-forward job. There won't be a lot of mess," he said. "And I have a brand new machine on order. It will trap almost all the dust." He handed Susan an estimate of costs and put us on his schedule. "I should only take a few days. You won't have to move out." 

I wonder if that's what they told Mrs. MacNeil in the Exorcist.

The Exorcist also took several days, as I recall.
Bob went away and I forgot all about his visit. A month later, I was at doggy daycare. And when I came home, the kitchen door was shut.

"Let's just peek," Susan said to Boy#2. They opened the door and peered in. Bob had gone home for the night but he'd left his equipment behind.

This machine appeared to be used to suck up the spirits. It looked very powerful. So powerful it seemed to have vaporized all the varnish off the floor as it worked. It was attached to another machine (see below) with a big black hose. 

This giant vacuum apparently trapped and stored the evil spirits. I gave it a wide berth. I hoped Bob had taken the day's worth of ghosts back to his storage facility. There didn't appear to be any paranormal activity in the tank.

The petite machine must be for the little guys - or the faster ones that try to hide in corners. Or maybe it was used to clean up the last bits of ectoplasm. It reminded me of a bot on MST3K. 

Mike and his bot buddies,
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Bob came on Monday and left on Wednesday. He worked alone. He said he didn't like having to supervise other folks. Being a floor whisperer must be lonely work.

Bob not only removed the spirits, he left behind gleaming floors that look like new. I guess ghostbusting is hard on the floors so he had to refinish them.  They look pretty good.

Bob also put in a new grate. Maybe that was how they were getting in. I assume he sealed up any doors to the underworld. No "Amityville Horror" here!

Susan also painted the whole kitchen and replaced the warm window shades - I guess you can never get that exorcism smell out. She even refinished the kitchen table and chairs.

They also bought a new stove even though the other one wasn't that old. I think the range was where the demons were living. It often possessed my Susan and made her burn things and spew bad words. The electronics were always haywire and the knobs kept spontaneously melting. I think they replaced them all at least three times. The new appliance seems spirit-free. So far.

All in all, Susan seems pretty pleased with Bob's services. Our kitchen is more cheerful and homey. It makes Susan happy. And a happy Susan means more baked goods for all. 

If you need a floor whisperer, you know who to call

Frosty Drink

We had our first frost a few mornings ago. 
It froze my outdoor water dish. 

I fear my red polarfleece coat will reappear soon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Carmella's Bad Awful Week

Last week was rough on this little brown dog. 

Half of the pack had disappeared with backpacks and did not seem to be coming back.

The remaining two started dismantling the kitchen and shoving things into the dining room - including the fridge. They scrubbed and cleaned that fridge within an inch of its life. And all the really good smells that waft out when the fridge door swings open began to fade.
Later that day, I met a rat terrier at our park. After playing together for a good five minutes, the little creep freaked out and mauled my head. Seriously! I have four toothmarks in my velvety ear to prove it. I bled. I cried. I tolerated first aid.
My favorite dog park was closed so hunters could shoot arrows at the deer. What deer would live in a dog park, you ask? Beats me. But it did seem prudent for furry folks like me to steer clear until all the archers stood down. 
I should have told that rat terrier the dog park was open for business as usual...

When Monday morning rolled around, we ate breakfast like normal and got in to the car to go drop off Boy#2 at school...or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I was dropped off at the pound. 

dramatization...this is not Carmella
Well, I thought it was the pound because my loved ones handed my leash to a complete stranger and I was led away to a space full of barking dogs. 

It was very different than the pound in Kentucky. All the dogs were pretty psyched to be there. They said their owners would be back for them at the end of the day. Poor suckers.

I busied myself searching for a new owner. I wagged my tail at everyone I met. I leaned on them and licked their hands. Basically, I tried to look as sweet as possible hoping someone would adopt me ASAP. 

OK, I also played all day with the other dogs. Why not? They were in good moods and it was catching. And unlike my previous pound, we were all together and allowed to romp and race in a huge room and outdoor yard. No kennels reeking of fear and depression.

But at the end of the day, the other dogs began to disappear. "My owner is here!" they would bark happily as a leash was clipped on. Poor idiots. They just don't understand. One by one, they were led out. I knew I would be next.

They snapped on my leash. "Come on, Carmella, let's go." Oh... crap. 

We went through a door into a hall and... there was my family! My Susan and Boy#2, smiling. I threw myself at them with utter joy. They forgave me about that baby squirrel! They changed their minds! They want me back!

"How was doggy daycare? Did you have a good day?" Boy#2 asked. 

We went home.  They didn't even get that mad when I peed in Boy#2's bed.

Home, sweet home!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I like looking at home catalogs as much as the next dog and Pottery Barn designs rooms that look tolerable. They usually have soft furniture for lounging, rugs for rolling, knick knacks  for chewing and leather for snuffling. But this one is a total fail.

Posting a giant NO on the wall above the sofa makes me cower.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Snake on the Path

This fall, Susan and I have seen several of these tiny brown snakes on the asphalt path at Battle Creek Regional Park. A man said with authority that they are red-bellied snakes. But we didn't see any red bellies.

This one has a damaged tail. And we've seen others flattened by bikes.
They should stay in the grass.
These snakes are so small - and sluggish with the fall chill - that they look like stranded night crawlers. Maybe they are babies. 

There are 17 kinds of snakes in Minnesota according to the DNR. We are used to seeing lots of garter snakes. But these little fellas are new to Susan. Anybody know what they are?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Twin Cities Dog Park Map

When we were at the vet, we picked up this free map of Twin Cities dog areas. It shows the Twin Cities area and the locations of all the great dog places like dog parks, shelters, and clinics -- as well as a few "necessary" evil ones like dog washes and animal control.

If you can't find a free one around town, you can buy it online from Hedberg Maps for 60 cents.
detail of map

On the other side, the off-leash dog areas are listed with all their addresses, amenities and permit requirements.

back of map

Minnehaha Media makes sponsor-supported free maps. Check out the selection of other maps. They have maps of farmers markets, orchards, walking trails, arts, dining... way cool stuff for pups and people. 
This mapmaker deserves a seriously tasty treat!

Overnight Shift

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Why yes, I would be happy to fetch your slippers!

Sorry, this of bread shoes is SOLD OUT
but there are other styles available for just 62 €.

Thank you to my foodie friend Hillary for pointing me to this fabulous footwear!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dim Bulb

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Most Sense

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Friday, October 8, 2010

Worth Chewing

I love ABC gum that Boy#2 leaves around in our household trash cans. Sidewalk stuff isn't bad either if it is nice and gooey on a hot summer's day.

But I had no idea there was such a thing as meatball gum. Willy Wonka lives!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pump Down the Volume

Some of the best news of the week: there's a new law limiting the volume of TV commercials. According to an Associated Press article, the Senate unanimously passed a bill requiring television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

That is good news for all the family dogs trying to catch some zzz's while their couch potato families stare at the TV. Not to say I don't love watching "Bones." But keep in mind that dogs hear far better than you primates.

"The frequency range of dog hearing is approximately 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz, which means that dogs can detect sounds far beyond the upper limit of the human auditory spectrum. Additionally, dogs have ear mobility which allows them to rapidly pinpoint the exact location of a sound. Eighteen or more muscles can tilt, rotate, raise, or lower a dog's ear. A dog can identify a sound's location much faster than a human can, as well as hear sounds at four times the distance." Wikipedia

Dogs and humans hear low frequencies about the same. But dogs are more sensitive to loud sounds - so loud noises that humans can tolerate just fine may be painful to dogs. All those TV gunshots, explosions and screaming are downright irritating to the pooch on the ottoman. 

Mind you, pain is not why dogs howl at sirens. My neighbor Johann loves to howl when he hears a siren. He sounds like a wolf. It is very impressive.

I surprised Boy#1 and myself the other day by howling for the first time. We were out walking when I heard a siren off in the distance. It sounded to me like another dog howling - something about its frequency just resonated with me - and I just couldn't help but answer. OK, I was a little embarrassed when Boy#1 told me it was a siren. But instincts are powerful things.

This isn't me - just another handsome hound.
I don't howl often enough for anyone to grab a camera.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Decorating Gone to the Dogs

Yesterday my Susan and I were basking on the deck flipping through catalogs. Well, she flips and I pretend I am not interested. She thinks I am staring at her cheese and crackers. I had to suppress a bark of delight when I spied the knick-knacks offered in the Pier One catalog. This is home decorating I can understand!

Be sure to click to enlarge the image to see what had my tail wagging.

While it is a bit disappointing that prairie dogs are not available in all stores, it is refreshing to find a retailer with a sense of humor.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Buddy's Self Esteem

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Urban Jungle Cat

Susan has been giving the kitchen a facelift. Cat#1 thinks the stepladder is her own personal jungle bough. She's dumber than a box of nails. (The cat, of course.)

Airlines Charge for Everything Now

Last week, Susan was sorting through the junk mail mail and yelled, "You have GOT to be kidding me! Delta is going to start charging for barf bags?!!"

It must have been the size of the mailing, the abstraction of the luggage bag graphic or maybe her stomach just felt queasy at that moment. But she really did seem to expect to find her one free barf bag inside the Delta Skymiles mailing. She tends to expect the worst.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Puppy Play

One of the main reasons to go to a dog park is to play with other dogs. Many dogs play nicely with others and the dog park offers a great selection of playing styles. With Colt, I like to body slam (I am the only girl he'll play with because I don't snarl at him when it gets a bit rough - I just run faster). I explore, bound and gently wrestle with Emma - she's my soulmate. Ella and Stella are always good for a run. And I never pass up a chance to play with a puppy. 

Emma is always game!
Mind you, puppies can be tough at the dog park. People bring them before they are ready - the people, that is. Most people are smart enough to leave the really young ones at home as the dog park is no place for infants. But I have found that many puppy owners are new owners and don't really understand dog play. They can be nervous - protective of their charges and also self-concious of their puppies' manners. They often rebuke their pups for being rude when they are just being pups. Yet they freak when the older dogs rebuke their pups to put them in their place. But I love pups and I think it shows so most folks let me play with the youngsters.

Puppy/adult dog rules are different. Good grown-up dogs don't hurt puppies even when puppies get out of line. We may bark or growl if those really sharp puppy teeth hit a tender spot. But mature dogs understand puppies are puppies. We give them a lot of latitude. That said, dog play in general can look dangerous to newbies. But to a trained eye, it is easy to sort out the fun and games from the worrisome.

Watch these video clips* of Gracie, a Corgi/Beagle pup (ten months) and me playing. Notice I am on the ground and she is in the dominant position the whole time. That is my choice, of course. Everyone knows who is in charge here. It should be noted that wrestling adult dogs should take turns as submissive/dominant or it ain't play. But puppies have to learn all the rules and that takes practice. So they get pretend they are powerful. 

In another year, Gracie might be another bossy little Borgi and I wouldn't be down in the dirt with her biting my face. But today, she's a hoot!

*The real reason Susan took this video was because Gracie is goofy looking version of me. She actually meant to take photos but is still pretty clueless about her new iPhone and took video by accident. I promise her skills will improve. Otherwise I might have to take her new iPhone and bury it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cup of Cuteness

Generally, I like my cats shaken, not purred. But even I can't resist Kitten in a Cup.

credit CollegeHumor

Little Brown Dog, Big Old Trees

After a romp at Battle Creek Dog Park, my Susan and I often walk the asphalt walking/biking trail east of either dog park gate. It is lightly traveled and meanders for about a mile and a half over gentle hills, around marshes, and through meadows and woods. We always look forward to saying howdy to our two favorite trees that flank the trail as we head back to the car.

To a little brown dog, these elderly cottonwoods feel like the Gates of Argonath from the Lord of the Rings.

It is hard to capture the massiveness of the trees* in a flat photo. I wonder how old they are and how these two escaped progress. Cottonwoods grow fast and can live up to 100 years. I hope these two stick around for awhile.

* 10/3/10 We measured the biggest one shown above and it is nearly 9 yards (about 8 meters) around!