Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Door Manners for All

I am pretty good dog. For the record, good dogs are supposed to guard their territory and their pack. That was a big reason why canines and humans started hanging out together - an early warning system for humans (and free food for dogs).

So yeah, I bark at people at the door... or near the door...or across the street if they look creepy. And heaven help you if you want to come in the backyard.

There is no reason I can think of for non-pack members
to come into my backyard.
Except for neighbor Mike. He's OK.

Let me be clear, I am an excellent guard dog. I have a deep bark of authority. When I bark at visitors I am 100 percent effective. Folks who don't belong here ALWAYS leave. Sometimes it just takes awhile for them to get the hint.

Convincing a gal like me to NOT bark at visitors is pretty challenging. I find it baffling that my family doesn't seem to want my services. They are no good at guarding the house. Most of the time they don't even notice someone is at the door. So it mystifies me that they have been working at modifying my guard dog behavior since I got here.

At first, this is how it would go.

Stranger at the door: Knock knock
Agitated family member: NO BARKING! NO! NO!
Angry/exasperated family member: NO BARKING! STOP! BAD DOG! BARK BARK BARK BARK!

OMG! Obviously, my peeps were very upset about visitors too. Someone's at the door! BARK BARK! The whole pack goes BARK BARK BARK! 

Clearly I was right. Visitors are BAD NEWS and everybody should bark until they leave.

Please note: my pack would get so wound up about visitors, they'd get confused and end up yelling at ME. Every time someone came to to door, I ended up in the dog house. Very stressful. And proved me right! Best to keep pesky visitors at bay...

Clearly, we had to come up a with door warning system that would please the whole pack. Now, when we have visitors, this is our new routine:

Stranger at the door: Knock knock
Calm, relaxed, cheerful family member: Good girl! Someone is here. Thanks for telling me. Now, in your bed. Go lay down...
Dog goes to her bed (reluctantly) which is away from the door and WAITS (on alert in case she is needed).
Relaxed family member (with treat in hand): Stay!
Door opens, family member greets stranger and then either:
  1. talks to stranger and makes them GO AWAY (then the adorable, waiting dog gets a treat) or 
  2. invites visitor over the threshold - transforming them to welcome guest (sort of welcome). Dog gets a treat, dog is invited over for a brief sniff, dog gets another treat from visitor, then dog goes about her business until needed.
It is hard to wait and trust my family can protect the pack.

This might seem complicated. And indeed, it is hard to train all the family members to do all the steps well. It is hard for me to let go and trust my pack can defend our territory. It is hard for my family to remember that I am a good dog doing my job -- they should NOT yell and bark at me. For success:

  1. They need to remember to be armed with treats (we keep them by the door) so I have a positive focus
  2. They need make the visitor wait behind a closed door while I settle into my bed -- which is hard for them as they were taught not to make people wait. 
  3. Then they need to keep enough of their attention on me to be sure I stay put until I am invited over. (I hate this part)
  4. All the while, they need to coach the visitor to ignore me. Do not stare at me! I don't like stranger hands all over my adorable ears.  I just need to sniff the visitor and give the "all clear" to my pack. 
  5. People need to get past their stereotypes about dogs: I don't want to make friends - live and let live is as good as it gets. Not all dogs are extroverts... Leave me be... unless you have peanut butter and will scratch my back (but that comes later...much later...)
  6. Most importantly, everyone's behavior must exude positive calm. We LOVE visitors. Thanks for letting us know we have one, Carmella. What a good dog!

Why so much effort? Because I don't rule the world and so visitors are apparently inevitable. As my pack practices this door ritual, things are more peaceful at our house. We now have a permanent sign on our front door that says:

Dog in Training
Please be patient.
Help me with my door manners.

I  must lie down and stay for the door to be opened.

  • Do not greet me
  • Just ignore me
  • Do not bend over me(it scares me).

If I am good, I will get a treat!

Obviously, I did not write that silly sign. But did I mention I get treats?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Recycling for a Better Life

I was trying to help out around the house by putting some things in the recycling. But then I read the sorting guidelines. Rats!

Sorry, we do not accept household goods other than clothes and linens.
No appliances
No books, tapes or CDs
No hardware or tools
No games or toys
No kitchen goods
No chemicals or hazardous waste
No cosmetics, creams or nail polish
No computers
No cats

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Firepits, Some Death Stars, Always Hot Dogs, and a Volcano

My blogger pal Ms. Sparrow commented on my last post about fire pits featuring burning animals:

"I would rather see a volcano one. That would be awesome! Seeing trees and animals threatened by a forest fire is not pleasant, but I could watch a really active volcano for hours!"

I think she is right. Even though I would never ever want to set paw anywhere near a real volcano, I agree that they are pretty amazing - at least when I've seen them on TV. I wondered if there were any volcano-design fire pits out there. Sadly, no.

This is the closest to a volcano fire pit that I found for Ms. Sparrow:

"Alpenglow" Mountain Sunset Fire Pit

I think the best fire pits feature designs of things meant to be burning hot. 
Like the sun:

"Solar Flare" Custom Fire Pit

Or dancing 'round the campfire at a full moon party:

Full Moon Party Fire Dome

 This is my Susan's favorite. 
She says she would buy this one for our backyard 
or the cabin we don't have (but it is $2000). 
I just hope the creepy people don't come with it...

The Great Bowl O' Fire

Here's a truly epic fire pit! 
 I would want a lever to pull that would make it shoot flames 10-20 feet.
It would keep the partying, peeing college students out of our yard.
And the cats.

Epic Dragon Fire Pit

This is a fire pit for my three Star Wars lovin' boys:

Death Star Fire Pit which is probably fake but funny

I would prefer this Death Star, for obvious reasons. 
Susan says, yeah, and the chocolate would be the death of me. 
Uh huh. I think people make stuff up...

Death Star Cookie Jar

 Dave would like this Death Star even better.

Death Star Ice Sphere

Wait...where was I? Oh yeah. Fire pits...

I don't really like fire. 
But I do like activities involving roasted sausages, marshmallows and the like. 
These dawgs are all for Carmella!   


I leave you with these rather sad images:

Campfire Kids Indoor Camping Gear: 
"Pretend to roast your marshmallows and hot dogs!

Who wants to PRETEND?
Plastic food is pointless.
Use with Campfire Kids Campfire (sold separately)

"Fun for kids who aren't fans of the great outdoors. It brings that play inside!" 

That is so sad. 

Somehow, I just don't think Ms. Sparrow meant this:

Small Nature's Fire Interactive Volcano

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Relax by the Fire

I posted awhile back about an unusual fire pit of the earth on fire: Global Warming

Apparently, there are even weirder fire pits to be had.

Here's one of Bambi's dad. I wonder if the other side has Bambi's shot-dead mother.

Run! Fire!

Ah! A relaxing underwater scene. Boiled fish anyone? Man, that fish looks like its in pain!

As they say on their website

"A fire is a great way to spend quality time with your family and friends. Whether roasting marshmallows with your kids on a laid back summer night or spending a romantic evening relaxing by a warm crackling fire, it's a wonderful way to get out of the house and enjoy each others company."

Burn, baby, burn!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hold the Ketchup

I know - the joke's been done. And I have said before that buns should be banned. But come on! It's a puppy. A baby wiener dog. In a real bun. Ah!

But what really makes it funny is the perky alertness of said puppy. It isn't a good gag with sleeping, trusting puppy.

Run away, little guy!


Other dachshund posts:
Ban the Buns
Just Because You Can...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Rug for Everyone

My Susan took Boy#2 to the orthodontist to get some appliances. I was expecting a new toaster oven or a crockpot. Wishful thinking, I guess.

I think Boy#2's teeth look fine.

Not as nice as mine, of course. He'd never be able to hold on to a squirrel.

While they were waiting for the new appliances at orthodontist, Susan came across this picture in a magazine and thought of me.

I chose not to be offended. I haven't peed on the floor in a long time. Not since I was a frazzled new adoptee in a strange new land.

But this fellow surely looks regretful. I think that's why they named the rug design "Reflections."Although the pattern also does such a nice job of looking like reflecting pee puddles.

I also appreciate the power of the guilt trip. "Our Looms. Your Legacy." (Dog pee is pretty hard to get rid of...)

I am not sure who would want a dog-pee patterned rug. But there are a lot of rugs in the world that are pretty odd.

In case you don't have a real dog to trip over constantly.                 source

Don't you want to bounce on the yolks?                                               source

I like to watch Susan cringe when she looks at this rug.
Is it because she is done, done, done with March?
Or simply her deep aversion to the anarchy of
a truck driving across a white, indoor rug?                                        source

Boy#1, on the other hand, would love this rug in his room.       source

Here's one for Dave. He knows why.

I know our Grandma Elizabeth would love this rug.                        source

Here's one for Uncle Andy.                                                                source

Boy#2's rug request.                                                                       source

And finally, a rug for Carmella!
I wish this was sure looks like Stuart.  source

As you can probably tell, we are trapped in our house by March freezing rain and sloppy ice. Clearly, Susan doesn't want to do taxes or vacuum. Happy, Saturday!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Open Door Prisons

I think everyone around here feels a little cooped up midwinter. Walkies are perfunctory. I don't ride along for errands when the car temps are so low. Backyard patrol is as needed only.

Because it is winter, over the fence moments are few and muffled by winter layers. We haven't yet heard why six fire trucks and a dozen plus firefighters visited our next door neighbors some days back (they appear to be fine).

And we haven't yet met the new babies on our other side or down on the corner. My auntie Lizabeth commented that last year her neighbors went in for the winter and came out with a fully formed baby without her even knowing they were pregnant. That's a long winter.

Of course, this is self-imposed isolation. It isn't like we are locked up. The happiest Minnesotans are the ones who bundle up and head out the door. But there are those new episodes of Downton Abbey to be viewed...

Some folks are locked up for real, of course. Until they aren't. Apparently there are now over 15,000 escaped farm crocodiles bobbing in the Limpopo River in South Africa. Their keepers opened up the river gates when flood waters threatened. Out they floated. That's a lot of crocs!

The best way to recapture crocs is at night because their eyes glow.

These are South American caimans.
But their eye shine is probably similar
to those escaped crocodiles in South Africa.
I may have some croc in me.

If I was a crocodile and my destiny was to be a pair of shoes, I would certainly take advantage of an open cell door.

Apparently, there are also jails with a rather generous open door policy. News of the Weird reports:

"Fulton Jail Will Get Working Cell Locks," read the Dec. 19 Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline. The county commission serving Atlanta had finally voted to break a longstanding 3-3 tie that prevented buying new jailhouse locks -- even while knowing that inmates could jimmy the old ones at will and roam the facilities, threatening and assaulting suspects and guards. The three recalcitrant commissioners were being spiteful because a federal judge had ordered various improvements to the jail, costing $140 million so far, and the three vowed to spend no more. The 1,300 replacement locks will cost about $5 million -- but will not be installed right away. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12-19-2012] 

I think it is interesting the prisoners only leave their cells for the specific business of harassing the guards or stretching their legs. They don't actually leave the prison. Sort of like free-range chickens. I hear they often have access to the outdoors but never go through the door.  Minnesota free-range chickens must be the worst.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Midwinter Day with My Pack

Considering it is -2 degrees outside, today is a pretty good day. That's because my pack is all home and busy around the house.

Dave is working up in the attic, of course. He just got back from a trip to Spain so having a normal Monday on a holiday is his penance. But his day will improve because tonight is his birthday party! Dave is turning 49 this time around and is a little baffled how he got to be almost 50.

Susan is puttering around the kitchen preparing Dave's favorite birthday dinner: pesto pasta, herb bread, pear/blue cheese salad, baked goat cheese stuffed zucchini, and flourless chocolate torte. Everyone will need extra walkies after eating that!

Dave requested flourless chocolate torte for his birthday treat... otherwise known as Death to Carmella, as it includes a full pound of toxic chocolate. I can't even lick the bowl! I wish it was a liver torte.

Dave's flourless chocolate torte. Sigh.

Boy#1 is alternating studying for finals and cheerfully helping get ready for Dave's family party. I am counting on him for a good walk this afternoon, as he complains less about things like cold than anyone else in the family. He complains about lots of other things but physically, he pretty tough.

Boy#2 is pretty scarce because he is supposed to be cleaning his room and taking a shower. He hates baths almost as much as I do!

I am helping Boy#2 clean his room by inspecting his (rarely) made bed.
I rate it four paws up.

Boy#2 is also relishing setting up a new laptop for his dad who hates PC's but needs it for testing things at work. Although Dave fears losing a beloved family member to Microsoft Madness, there is something to be said about having someone in the house know how to make such a beast behave. Boy#2 is happy to finally have a laptop at his beck and call. But like I said, he supposed to be cleaning his room.

The cats are their usual selves.

Sophie helps the clean sweaters dry.
Stuart helps Boy#1 with his Warhammer 40K model building.

Susan is also getting to some projects she has delayed for years. She finally framed a series of postcards by her sister-in-law, fiber artist Elia Woods. Lia gathers inspiration from her gardens to make gorgeous art quilts using photo transfer techniques and natural dyes. Susan thought the exhibition postcards looked beautiful too - so she put them together to hang in our dining room. Someday maybe we'll get to see Lia's quilts (though I suppose I won't be allowed to lay on them).

Postcard series of details of Elia Wood' s art quilts.

It is nice that everyone has hobbies. I hope everyone is having a peaceful, productive day.

Carmella's hobbies include shredding potpie tins.