It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Light of Mystery

Exhibit A: Dog. Mellow dog with light.

The light is a flattened sphere of plastic, inside of which is an LED bulb that cycles through a few colours when it’s turned on. It is not habitually turned on while in the house. This is for evening and pre-dawn walks, when it’s useful to be able to find one’s dog in a good-sized off-leash dog park.

Question: Why is Indie’s light on? Clearly she can’t manage it. It’s so stiff I have to use both hands and press like crazy with two thumbs to turn it on. This is simply not happening by accident. An idle knock into a piece of furniture would not do it. Even if she rolled on it, or scratched it, that thing wouldn’t turn on.


Exhibit B: Two dogs. Mellow dogs, on bench. Mellow, un-lit dogs.

But wait…

and a closer look…

Chomp. Click. We have RED.

And green.

And blue. Mystery solved.

Well, all except for the “why is my small dog so weird?“, which will likely remain unsolved.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | my kids, random and odd | , , , | 5 Comments

My favourite season

Fall. I love the quality of the light. I love the colours on the trees. I love the crunchy drifts of leaves on the ground.

I love sweaters. I love weather cool enough to require sweaters… but nothing heavier. Perfect! I love the honking of the geese as the rise off the river. I love the rich, earthy smell of damp soil.

And I love my puppy. (Totally gratuitous, I know, but ISN’T SHE CUTE??)

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Canada, outings | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Three, two, one… PUPPY EXPLOSION!!!

Remember how pathetic Daisy looked after her Big Procedure? How limp and floppy, how droopy and sad? Well, it’s been a week now.

A week of wearing The Cone.

A week of short, on-leash walks.


She is no longer limp, floppy, droopy or sad. She has not been that way since, oh, 50 hours after surgery.

It’s only been a week since she had a hysterectomy. And if she were HUMAN, she might just be considering creeping carefully from room to room in the house. But she’s not human! She’s a PUPPY! And so, as far as she’s concerned, she is FINE, just FINE — and has been, since about 50 hours after surgery.

She has NO IDEA why we make her wear that damned cone, of course, but even worse… why won’t we let her run? and play? and frolic with the other dogs? Why, why, why?

I am not totally cruel. Each day’s walk gets a little longer, of course. But she is getting maybe a third of her customary level of RUNNING and BOUNDING and BOUNCING and LEAPING and PLAY-PLAY-PLAY-PLAYING!!!!

She is, to put it mildly, a little antsy.

She’s begun having these moments of total frenzy in the house. Not aggression, just frenzy.


And she bounds, in great sproings, from one end of the house to the other. This takes her about four and a half sproings. The half, because she hits the wall, either in the kitchen (north end) or the front hall (south).


And she springs onto and off the couch, madly. Books, magazines, socks, iPods go flying. If someone is sitting on the couch, no problem, she will just SPRING ON YOU!!! And a cone-armed puppy comes flying into your face and then off again, in a flurry of fur, tail, and claws.

If you’ve ever interacted with a puppy with a cone, you’ll know why “armed” is the word of choice. She has only the vaguest of notions of the edges of that thing, so when she leaps at you (head-first, of course), you get the edge of the cone, a thin, semi-rigid plastic edge, driven into your face, your arm, your leg. Ouch.


And poor, quiet, gentle Indie finds herself the victim of a flurry of cone-armed chewing. Her neck, her legs, her entire body bears the assault of a mad tail-wagging, desperate for OUTLET puppy. Indie usually rolls onto her side while Daisy pounces all over her head, and moans. Mournfully. “Won’t someone please rescue me from this idiot? Pleeeeeeease?”


And she races, races, races from one end of the house to the next, catching walls, doorframes, books, furniture, people with that cone. Things fall down. Things get knocked over. Things rattle on the walls. People duck and run. (And she only weighs 8 kg. One can only imagine the destruction caused by a large exercise-starved puppy. Eesh.)

The stitches come out Saturday. I’ll be there Bright and Early.

Three more days…

September 7, 2011 Posted by | the dog | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Travails of a Puppy

My baby is growing up! Daisy will be six months old on Sunday, and so, to celebrate this momentous event, we

gave her an extra-juicy bone
took her to an exciting new dog park
bought her a new collar and leash

took her to the vet to have her reproductive organs yoinked.

Poor Daisy!

Now, if my surgical experience is anything to go by — which, I hasten to clarify, is NOT the same one Daisy has just endured — the actual surgery was a non-event. You go to sleep, you wake up. You wake up not even knowing you’d been asleep. Odd how that, when you sleep, you’re aware in a general way of the passage of time, but when you’re knocked out, you are not. Not at all. Weird.

But then you wake up. Which is when it gets yukky. And for Daisy, I am very, very sure that the worst part of the yukky is The Cone.

She does NOT approve of the cone. The vet calls it an “Elizabethan collar” or “E-collar” for short. Amongst dog owners in our neighbourhood, it’s known as the “Cone of Shame”, the shamelessly anthropomorphic myth being that “all the other dogs will laugh at her”.

I’m sure there’s no shame in her heart, but there sure is weariness and misery. Here she is yesterday, still all drugged up, in pain, and absolutely bewildered. “WHY are we DOING this to her? WHEN will it STOP???” (That is Indie’s crate she’s in, since she can’t get into her own. The door’s too small, you see, to admit The Cone.)

Look at her! Isn’t that pathetic? Don’t you just feel so sorry for the wee mite?

All she wanted to do was creep away someplace quiet and be miserable, but all her usual hidey-holes were banned by virtue of That Damned Collar. In the corner behind the chair? Nope. Her crate? Nope. Under the couch? No way it would fit. And yet at a certain point yesterday afternoon, she vanished.

It took a minute of rather anxious searching before I found her. She had managed, somehow, to squeeze herself under the end table beside the couch. I’ve no idea how. And awwww, more with the pathos.

My poor baybeee! That doesn’t look comfortable AT ALL. I managed to coax her out, then lifted her onto the couch. There. She at least looks comfortable now. (Depressed, but comfortable.) It might be my imagination, but it seems to me there’s a little less pain showing in her big brown eyes…

Here she receives comfort from Emma.

That orange thing against Emma’s face? It’s an ice pack. Yes, Emma does indeed have an ice-pack held against her jaw. That is because yesterday was not only The Day Daisy Lost Her Lady-bits, but also The Day Emma Lost Her Wisdom Teeth.

Whee!! do I know how to plan FUN EVENTS for my HOLIDAY!!!, or what?!?!

Now, lest you all be shocked and horrified that I am giving the DOG more post-op love and attention than my DAUGHTER, let me remind you that Emma is eighteen now. While, yes, I had lots of opportunity to take “awww, lookit my poor baaaybeeee” photos, I think I could safely put myself on Emma’s “People I NEVER want to speak to EVER AGAIN” list were I to have PUBLISHED any of the pictures.

So yes. I love my daughter. I love my daughter SO MUCH that, not only did I not post pictures of her in her swollen, blotchy, drugged-up state, I DIDN’T EVEN TAKE ANY.

That, my friends, is mother love.

But if I had taken pictures of Emma yesterday, she’d have looked much like this:


September 1, 2011 Posted by | health and safety, my kids, the dog | , , , , | 5 Comments

Quick! Get the Camera!

This is NOT ALLOWED! Not, not, not! Baaaaaaaad puppy!

However, as I learned years ago from my very wise aunt, it’s often best to capture the misbehaviour before you put a stop to it. (You can click to enlarge the smaller picture.)

Because, really, the picture-perfect puppy (or child!!!) is very sweet, and will make you smile… but it’s THESE pictures that will make you laugh.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | the cuteness!, the dog | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Another twist, maybe?

Rory is very good at puzzles.

Shape-sorter? Never had to be explained. He took one look at that thing and started pushing the pieces through the right holes. Nesting toy? Getting the pieces in the right order took a little consideration, but after a day or two he had that nailed, too, a feat his age-mates have yet to come close to achieving. He’s good at putting the toys away, too, once he understands what’s being asked. I don’t have to tell him which bin the soft toys, blocks, books, go in. It’s a puzzle, isn’t it, matching like to like?

Good with puzzles, our Rory.

The puppy had a long walk with her big sister this morning. I walked 2.5 km; Indie probably ran for double that. Daisy alternated between periods of running madly off in all directions to the fullest extent of her leash, and periods of exhaustion caused by all the madly off in all direction-ing, during which she must be carried. All told, she probably galloped a good 2 km.

She had three pees and a poop during that time. Outside! Yaaaaay, what a goooood, goooood, puppy! Here, have a yummy treat, you smart, smart, smart puppy. Goooooood girl!!!!

Home, breakfast, dishes, clear table for daycare activities. Take puppy out for a pee. Gooooood puppy! You did a pee on mommy’s violets! Goooooood girl! Here, have a treat for being such a smart, smart puppy!

And then the crate, because I can’t watch the puppy during arrival time. Too much activity, too many distractions, and adults, they are far less easy-going than small children about being abruptly interrup — NO! Bad puppy! No pee! — ted to whisk a suspiciously-positioned puppy out to pee.

The sky is looming grey and sullen, but we go out anyway. It’s not actively raining, they all have rain gear, and the stroller had a rain shield. Daisy comes with us. Another 2-km outing for the puppy, two kilometers of racing madly ahead, and stopping dead in her tracks by a new sound (they’re all new), a new smell (they’re all new), a new thing to look at (they’re all new). It takes 45 minutes to go 2 km.

And she pees three times and poops once! Outside! Yaaaaay, what a goooood, goooood, puppy! Here, have a yummy treat, you smart, smart, smart puppy. Goooooood girl!!!!

The rain begins to spatter as we enter the house. The front hall is a welter of boots, babies, and coats. And in the midst of all that… Daisy pees on Tyler’s coat. Tyler, who is the only child not wearing a lovely, 100% waterproof raincoat, but rather a puffy ski jacket. On the inside of Tyler’s puffy ski jacket.


Into the crate with the puppy, and lesson learned for Mary. This is one of those can’t-attend-to-puppy times. Thus, she should have been crated before we started peeling off the coats and boots. Even though she did just pee three times in 45 minutes. Now I know.

The next few minutes, putting coats on hooks, children in high chairs and snack on table is also one of those periods I can’t monitor Daisy closely enough, so she will have to stay there for a bit. Despite her piteous whimpers. (Another puddle on my floor and I’ll be whimpering. Better you than me, dog.) Coats on hooks, I head to the kitchen to chop up the fruit. Fruit on platter, I return to the dining room… and trip over the puppy.


Emily, at five-and-a-half, is the most coordinated, but unlikely to break a rule. Tyler, three-and-a-half seems the most likely suspect. “No, I didn’t.” Emily corroborates. “He was colouring at the table with me.”

I consider the others. No idea. Pop Daisy back in the crate as I put food on the table and get the baby into her high chair, while keeping a discreet eye on the puppy crate. And it happens. Rory squats down in front of it, grabs the latch, and slides. Daisy bounds free, delighted.

I should have guessed. For Puzzle Boy, a simple sliding latch is a no-brainer… and yet so very irresistible. I get it — but I can’t tolerate it.

The solution is pleasingly low-tech. Let Puzzle Boy work THAT out!

‘Course, he is very good at puzzles… At the very least, it should take him long enough to be noticed…

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Mischief, Rory, socializing, the dog | , , , | 2 Comments

Cause and effect

House-training continues.

For Romeo, that is. Right now no human child is potty training in my house. Tyler is done, and no one else is ready to start. A small breather.

We had hit a bit of a wall in the puppy version. See, while Romeo certainly seems to have grasped that we DO want him to pee outside, he did not at all understand that we did NOT want him peeing inside. We’d been keeping the house relatively puddle-free by dint of hourly pee-breaks, but Romeo? Was not with the program. It is safe to say that he was totally oblivious that a program existed.

What to do? Consult my all-knowing internet dog guru, of course! “Introduce treats to the training!” she said. If the consequence of a pee in the house is a startling “NO” and being whisked outside, while the consequence of peeing outside is delirious joy and a TREAT… well, it won’t take him too long to make the distinction.

Makes sense to me!

Romeo likes this new twist. Very much. Now, having peed outside, he will sit and look up at you expectantly. “See? I’m a GOOD BOY! Aren’t I a GOOD BOY??? Treat, treat, treat, treat!!!” all the while his wee tail going a mile a minute.

We’ve seen progress, too. Indoor accidents have dropped by 50%. YAY!!

Which is why I was a little flabbergasted the other day, as I stood in the kitchen, chopping stuff, to look down and see Romeo, PEEING AT MY FEET!


And then, when he was done, he sat down, his wee tail going a mile a minute. As if he’d done something GOOD. As if he expected to be praised. As if he were about to get a…


The chopping board holds a small pile of dog treats. Dog treats which I was chopping into teeny, Romeo-bite-sized morsels, suitable for use as Motivating Rewards.

Rewards for what?

Well, peeing.


January 26, 2011 Posted by | my kids, potty tales | , , , , | 5 Comments

Fashion Puppy

When the vet warned Emma that dogs of Romeo’s ilk don’t handle the cold well (Jan, you were right!), was she distressed? Worried? Dismayed?

She was NOT.

Emma loves to shop. Well, that’s not universally true. Groceries? Meh. Hardware stores (which I love!), video game stores, electronics stores? Equally indifferent. Book, card, and fabric stores are more interesting. But … accessories, clothes, and shoes? Those make her little fashionista heart go pitter-pat.

So. A dog that doesn’t deal well with cold? This is not a pathetic weakling dog. This is not a canine embarrassment to dogdom. A dog that doesn’t deal well with cold is a dog with FASHION NEEDS! Visions of so-cute coats and wee doggie sweaters danced before her eyes. Maybe she could even discover some well-chosen and tasteful doggie accessories! Who knows?? She and pup hastened forthwith down to the local upscale doggie boutique.

Where she discovered that, because he’s so small and all, he fits precisely ONE style of coat just yet. I imagine her disappointment was profound, but she took it well. One style of coat, so that’s what he got.

And isn’t it CUTE? A weeny little doggie parka! Complete with fur-trimmed hood! (Can I have a rousing “aaaaawwwww”?)

He’s supposed to wear boots, too. (Much as I am smitten with wee Romeo — and I am! — I admit my big-dog-loving heart rolls its eyes at this. (Yes, my heart has eyes.) Fondly, but still… Coat and boots? Eesh.)

Turns out that there are boots for ALL sizes of dog, from Extra-Large, down through Small, Extra-small, and ending at (brace yourself)… Itty Bitty.

Guess what?

His feet are too small for Itty Bitty boots…

So he has a few sets of these.

Yup. Little rubber booties for your pup.

“They look like balloons!” said Emily, delighted. Emily is five.

Emma has a slightly different take, for Emma is seventeen.

“Condoms. My dog wears condoms on his feet.”

Sure looks that way. But at least they’re dry and salt-free condoms balloons rubbers boots!

January 7, 2011 Posted by | my kids, the dog | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Yes, he’s that small

January 5, 2011 Posted by | my kids | , | 4 Comments

About that dog, daddy…

From an interview on ABC, which generally covered more politically significant territory, this little nugget:

STEPHANOPOULOS: [Your daughters] are out touring the museum right now, I heard they were taken straight to the first dog exhibit and while you were getting made up, they went into the control room and played director and producer. And they actually gave me a question they want me to ask you. You know exactly what it’s going to be.

portuguese_pupOBAMA: Uh-oh. Go ahead.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What kind of a dog are we getting and when are we getting it?

OBAMA: The — they seem to have narrowed it down to a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A medium sized.

OBAMA: Medium sized dog. And so, we’re now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you’re closing in on it?

OBAMA: We’re closing in on it. This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary.

I approve of how they’re proceeding. After all, choosing a dog is something that should be undertaken with due respect for the needs of the dog as well as of the family. It shouldn’t be done on impulse, but only upon careful consideration. (Much like choosing a commerce secretary?)

January 13, 2009 Posted by | parenting | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments