Home For The Holidays

I take the phrase “home for the holidays” literally.  I stay at home on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  I have wonderful, generous friends, and family who always extend invitations to join them in their festivities, but on holidays I want be with my own little furry family.  Sentimental? Silly?  After all, the dogs don’t know it’s a holiday, right?  Right!  Of course they don’t know, but I do.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I have an amazing family.  Like most families, we grew up with holiday traditions.  We all have fond holiday memories, and funny stories to share.  Over the years, as people married, and had children, as would be expected, new traditions were established.  My siblings now have their own families to celebrate with.  During my former life as a married person,  we moved around a lot, and often lived far away from family, so I too developed new traditions.

When I moved back to the Chicago area in 2012, alone for the first time in my life, I’ll admit, the holidays were kind of hard.   Partly because long long ago, in a land far away…I had gotten engaged in December, and married the following December.  That kind of ties a lot of additional memories to Christmas time.

That first holiday season back home, my always wonderful family invited me to share in their Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  I joined them, but I found that seeing my family carrying on their traditions just reminded me of what I no longer had.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just was what it was.  Add to that the fact I’ve always been a bit of a chicken driving in winter weather, and my family is an hour’s drive away, plus my eyes aren’t what they used to be now that I’m a bit older, so night driving is tricky as well.  All in all,  I found that I couldn’t wait to get home to be with the dogs, and stay there.

Can’t you just stay home with us and cuddle?

The next year, I decided to try staying home with my own little furry family during the holidays, and it was AWESOME!  I invited a few single friends for Thanksgiving since I enjoy cooking.   The following week, I blasted Christmas music through the house, and tortured the poor dogs with my off key singing while I put up my Christmas decorations.  I baked, shopped on-line, and played in the snow with the dogs.  I was creating new traditions without even trying, and had the unexpected added bonus of beginning to glimpse some of the same magical feelings I remembered as a child during this time of year.  Feelings that I thought were long gone.

 
Nowadays, my family graciously accepts (maybe with a bit of an eye-roll) that I prefer to be at home with the dogs on the holidays.  They make it clear that if I ever decide I want to join them, I am welcome, which is a gift in and of itself.

 

OOOPS!

So, yesterday I decided to do some blog related housekeeping, and deleted a bunch of photo files.  Turns out I didn’t just delete them from the file folder, I also deleted them from the blog posts…WHAT?!

Then I realized I’d have to upload all of the photos again, and then go back into each blog entry to put them back up on the individual posts.  I thought about it for a while and decided it was just too much to bother with.  I’d rather spend the time creating new posts, which we all know I don’t do as often as I should.

Sorry about that, but going forward I’ll know not to make the same mistake! DUH!

Ferris & Henry

This week we celebrated Ferris’ one year adoption anniversary.  It’s hard to believe we’ve all survived, oh sorry did I say that out loud?  Seriously, he has grown into a sweet, fun guy, even though he really does seem to have a doggie version of attention deficit disorder, and often has a rather endearing blank look on his face.

Huh?

Earlier this year Ferris earned the title of “Destructodog par Excellence”,  when he successfully disemboweled two futon couches, and several dog beds.  We won’t even mention the dozens of stuffed dog toys.

I apologize if the content of this photo is disturbing to any of you.  Just know that the end was quick, and futon didn’t suffer.

I’ve considered pursuing something like obedience, or maybe agility classes to tire out his brain and body at the same time.  Ferris is however, well…let’s just say, not so bright.  Whenever I’ve tried a one on one training session with him, he could not be less interested.  His concentration is similar to that of a gnat, he’s just way too distracted by things like, the other dogs, smells, noises, and, you know, air.  Lucky for me, I have lots of other dogs to help teach him, and while he may not want to learn by typical training methods, he does learn from the other dogs.  They have helped teach him to sit, wait, and get into his crate on command.

As most of you know, I adopted Henry this spring, as a playmate for Ferris.  The plan worked, they love to play together.  Truth be told, to an untrained eye it looks like they love to beat the crap out of each other, but it really is just really rough, loud, rowdy, boy play.  Considering this is the only way Ferris plays, Henry truly is a perfect pal for him, and they have become best buddies.

This photo is a bit outdated, Henry is now the same size as Ferris.

Henry at 8 months old, is still a puppy in many ways, but he is CLEARLY very different from Ferris.  Henry is laser focused on me, super affectionate, and quite bright.  I’d love to take some classes with him, and if I can get him over his car sickness I will.  There’s nothing worse than taking a dog that gets carsick to classes.  They feel like crap when they get to class, so they aren’t super interested in treats until maybe halfway through the class.  Then on the way home they vomit up the treats from training class.  How fun – let’s do that again!!

Having two young rowdy boys in the house has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.  I laugh a lot, (when I’m not yelling at them).  They really are pretty hilarious.

I wasn’t aware of how much Ferris had bonded to Henry until yesterday.  Henry is staying at the vet’s for the weekend and getting neutered on Monday.  Ferris has been moping around like a sad little child who’s lost his favorite toy.  Which is pretty much exactly what has happened.  It’s strange to see him all droopy and quiet.  I actually miss the nutty, sometimes exasperating Ferris.  Yesterday he tried to play a little bit with Cubby & Sox, but they weren’t interested in being dragged around like a rag, so it didn’t last for long.  Then he tried to coax Rex in playing, but that didn’t go over too well either.  He eventually resorted to curling up in Henry’s crate to mope.  I think he’s going to be getting a lot of stuffed kongs, and chewies this weekend.

So so sad, missing his buddy

 

 

Where oh where have the futons gone?

A few days ago a very dear friend of mine came for a visit.  We’ve been friends for almost 40 years, and we get together for lunch now and then, which is not often enough, but we do the best we can.

She wanted to come and see the dogs since she had not yet had the opportunity to meet Cubby, Sox, Ferris, or Henry.  She is kind enough to read this blog so she was aware of the Destructodog Saga involving Ferris and his homicidal tendencies toward anything involving fabric and stuffing.  One of the first things she noticed was that the futons were GONE!!

I had forgotten to continue the saga here on the blog.  For those who for some strange reason may be interested, we will pick up the story after I had resorted to dragging the futon mattresses out to the garage to await the 1-800-GOTJUNK guys, and was using the cardboard from box mountain in place of mattresses.  If you are confused, or don’t understand the terms “Destructodog” or “Box Mountain” you need to read some of the previous posts, or just skip this one – I promise I won’t be offended.

——————————————————————————————–

To recap: When we last left our heroine, she had ingeniously dealt with the aftermath of Destructodog by visiting Box Mountain, and harvesting some of its treasure.

  

The magical Box Mountain

The villagers were satisfied with the new, albeit a bit less comfy, futon solution and were happily going about their little furry lives.  

Notice the cardboard underneath the blankets

Destructodog was still on the rampage, but his new focus was disemboweling stuffed toys, dog beds, and pillows.

But alas, after a few weeks our heroine was confronted with yet another doggie dilemma.  In secret, some of the furry villagers took a vote – namely Ferris, Henry and the Weasel Brothers (Cubby & Sox), and decided that racing back and forth on top of the new futon platforms was a really fun game.  This wasn’t really an issue when there were mattresses on top of the futon frames, but dogs bounding back and forth on top of cardboard is LOUD.  In addition, this game meant the blankets were being scattered hither and yon which exposed the cardboard and…you guessed it!  Destructodog was ON THE JOB!!!  Once Destructodog knew that there was hidden treasure under those blankets, nothing would stop him from exposing the treasure to share with the furry villagers.  Dragging the cardboard off of the futon frames resulted in exposing the wire framing which could have been a disaster for little doggie legs.  Our heroine took yet another of several hundred heavy sighs, and resigned herself to taking drastic measures.

The new and improved, futon free, family room!

And they all lived happily ever after…for now.

 

 

 

Ch-ch-ch-Changes…

Once again I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed!  This week (on Saturday) fall officially arrives.

I love the change of seasons, and I’m looking forward to fall – crisp mornings, apples, pumpkins, football games, and of course the beautiful fall colors when the leaves start to change.  I have a maple tree in my front yard that is spectacular when it turns.

I took this picture of leaves from the maple tree a few years ago.

One of the other things I’m looking forward to is NO MORE mosquitoes.  They have been horrible this year, and particularly vicious the past week or so.  It’s like they know their time is limited and they want to cause as much misery as possible while they can.  Little bastards.  This is also boxelder bug time, which I actually enjoy (yeah I know – weird).  I think they’re cute, and they really don’t cause any harm.  I don’t mind having them around, even in the house.  I sometimes find one inside and take it a little drink of water.  If you put a drop of water nearby, they will often uncurl their little tongue and take a nice long drink.  It’s pretty neat.

Overall we’ve had a good summer here in The Land of Misfit Dogs.  I adopted Henry in May, and he has been a wonderful addition to the pack.  I’ve been joking with friends that Henry is my reward for putting up with Ferris.  It’s not completely true, and not fair to Ferris, but it usually gets a good laugh, and I’m not above using my dogs for humor.

Ferris turned a year last month, and has grown up in a lot of ways.  He is still a bit of a quandary, and I suppose he always will be.  That’s fine, it makes life interesting, and he is without a doubt a good dog and I love him, but he is a bit odd.  When people visit, he is polite and friendly, but once he says hello, he really isn’t interested in them anymore.  He doesn’t respond to them calling him over for some petting or to play with a toy.  He basically gives them a sort of “huh?” look, and wanders over to hang out with the other dogs.  He really is a dog’s dog, more than a people dog, which around here is obviously fine.  I always tell people who haven’t met him before that it isn’t that he doesn’t like them, he’s just…well…a bit odd.  In fact, it’s only been recently that Ferris has started to initiate interacting with ME.   He puts his paws up on me to greet me which I normally wouldn’t allow, but because he’s not that big, and he’s actually coming to me for attention, I’ve been happy to let him do it.  Sometimes when I pet him, he will hold still for a bit, stand there and wag his tail while looking off into the distance, and then he just walks away while I’m still petting him.  I should mention that he’s also smart, and endlessly hilarious, always cracking me up with his antics.  Even when he’s being naughty it’s hard to get mad at him because he basically has no clue he’s doing anything wrong.

Ferris all grown up. What a handsome boy!

While Ferris seems ambivalent toward people, when it comes to other dogs it’s a completely different story.  He really needs other dogs in his life.  He loves all of my other dogs, sometimes a little too much.  Before Henry came along, Ferris incessantly pestered Rex and Rudy for attention, and seemed to think that Cubby & Sox were his personal toys, and was often too rough with them.  That’s where Henry has earned his kibble, BIG time.  Henry is a sturdy, reliable, resilient, and willing playmate, and keeps Ferris busy.  They really are best buddies, and I couldn’t be happier.  Ferris has grown up to be a good boy, and I have no doubt that being a big brother to Henry has been an essential part of that process

Even though he’s only 6 months old, it’s already obvious that Henry couldn’t be more different from Ferris.  He LOVES people, and is a huge cuddle bug.  I think if he had his way, when he wasn’t playing with Ferris, he’d sit on my lap all day.   He loves our pack, but is uninterested in any dogs other than our pack.  Henry is all about PEOPLE!!  He greets everyone he meets as if they’re his long lost best friend.  I find it interesting, because I didn’t spend any more time socializing Henry than I did Ferris, and truth be told I really didn’t make a huge effort with either of them, it was basically just people coming to visit occasionally.

I took this of Henry yesterday, his ears are trying to come up.

I find it fascinating how different dog’s personalities can vary.  It’s that age old question nurture or nature?   I’ve always assumed it’s a little of both, and these two are a perfect example.  Henry and Ferris are not related, and they are 6 months apart in age.  They were each adopted by me when they were approximately 10 weeks of age, both came from the same rescue, where they were surrendered with their litter-mates.  Both were raised by me in exactly the same way.  I am certain if I had adopted either one of them as an older puppy or an adult, I would have assumed some of their behavior toward people and other dogs was a result of how they were raised, but in this case I absolutely know different since I raised both of them.

Just another example of how different each dog’s personality can be.  Even after working with dogs for going on 40 years, and living with a pack of at least 15 rescue dogs of all ages and breeds for the last 13 years, I am continuously amazed at how much I learn from my dogs in general, and my pack in particular about dog behavior!  I wouldn’t trade my unique experience living with these amazing creatures for all the money in the world.

Hot Dogs!

We are well into summer now, and that means, picnics, parties and grills brimming with hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs!  I love a good Chicago style hot dog, but this post is about these kind of hot dogs…

Whoa, it’s HOT out here!

We’ve been experiencing temps in the mid to high 90’s, accompanied by high humidity 75%(!) here in Chicagoland for the past several days.  Going outside basically feels like stepping into a sauna.  The air hits you like a wall, and within minutes you start to wilt like old lettuce.

Fortunately, with the (often taken for granted) benefit of air conditioning, the dogs and I have remained comfortable.  I also have the additional insurance of a generator.  It came with the house when I bought it and has been a source of comfort when extreme weather is predicted – winter or summer.  It has been a bit unreliable lately, but don’t worry – the repair man, Andy, was here a few days ago after it did not come on during a brief power outage.  He determined the problem, ordered a part, and in a week or so, after the part arrives, he’ll be out to finish the job.  Meanwhile, it is out of commission, but that just means I’ll have to deal with the possibility of losing power just like most people – hope it doesn’t happen and if it does, hope it is resolved quickly before all of the food in the fridge is ruined.

The dogs are a mixed bag regarding the heat.  Some of the smaller and shorter haired dogs love it, and want to lie out on the deck.  They pant away smiling and soaking up the heat.  Others HATE it and are at the door, tongues lolling out, seeking shade and wanting back inside within a few minutes.

Ahhh, nice and warm – YES!

   

I always monitor the dogs when they’re out in this kind of heat.  I sit out with them, have fresh water available, and insist on everyone coming inside when I go in, even the “heat seekers” no matter how reluctant they may be.

 

Summer camp

This week we will be enjoying the company of two additional dogs – Emmy and Dempsey.  My brother and his family are going up to Northern Wisconsin on vacation while the two canine family members enjoy their annual visit to The Land of Misfits Summer Camp!

Dempsey & Emmy

Both Emmy and Dempsey have been coming here for visits since they were pups, and have stayed with us on several occasions.  With the help of Rex they quickly learned the rules of Misfit Land.  In addition, my brother Tim, and his family have done a terrific job of raising them to be wonderful dogs with great doggie manners.  Now that they are all grown up, whenever they visit they slip right into the routine pretty seamlessly.

Ferris LOVES both of them and gets very excited when they come to stay.  More playmates!!! Yay!!!!!!!!  Last night was their first meeting with Henry.  He was a bit reserved, at first, but also curious.  I’ve noticed that Henry relies on the other dogs for his cues on visitors, human and canine.  I am happy he does this, it is healthy puppy behavior in a pack environment – take your cues from the adults.  It is extremely helpful with pups who are shy or hesitant, fortunately Henry is neither, but I am always pleased when I see the “pack energy” influence in action.

Once Henry saw that everyone, including Rex, was happy to see them, he relaxed.  Within a half an hour he was playing with them both.  He seems to prefer Dempsey’s more laid back personality, while Ferris is drawn to Emmy’s energy and “let’s play” outlook on life.  I’ll have more posts with pictures this week of the gang all hanging out together, but for now I’ll leave you with a photo I took last night of Tim with most of the gang out on the deck shortly after they arrived.  As you can see from the photo – the dogs all adore him…guess the “dog thing” really does run in the family.

The jokester

I love taking photos of my dogs.  Henry is a growing pup, so I probably take more  shots of him than the other guys lately.

It’s fun to look back at baby pics and see the process of growing up.

Today he was lying on the floor in a cute way so I grabbed the camera to snap a few quick shots…

Yes, that’s Henry’s back end, completely covered by the giant nose of (who else) Ferris!

That’s more like it!

Ferris never fails to take advantage of an opportunity to make me laugh.

Problem solved (maybe)

In my last post we continued the saga of Destructodog (aka Ferris), and his newly recruited partner in crime, the ever innocent Henry.  I recounted, complete with photos, their deconstruction of yet another futon mattress (that’s 2 total).

Yeah right dude, that innocent face isn’t going to work.

Because this was Henry’s first foray to the dark side, and considering there was yet a third damaged, but still functioning mattress yet to be completely dismembered, I thought perhaps it might be a good idea to take away further temptation.  This morning I dragged both the seriously damaged mattress, and the not so damaged mattress out into the garage to await my further plans for their demise.  That makes a grand total of 3 futon mattress corpses now in my already crowded garage (more to come on that topic).

This created a problem.  I needed something to put on the futon frames in place of the mattresses.  The solution needed to be something flat, yet sturdy, to put over the wire mesh that I could then cover with blankets, pillows, and dog beds.

This may seem a bit off topic, but my family and close friends know that I rarely leave my home, by choice.  It isn’t that I have a phobia about leaving,  I can and do go out and about when needed, I just prefer to be at home.

I’ve always been a homebody, and thanks to the internet,  I have taken complete advantage of on-line services.  I use Chewy (for pet supplies), Amazon (for everything else), and PeaPod (a local grocery delivery service).  It’s awesome!  I can stay home with the beasts, write, work on my various art projects, watch Netflix, serf the internet, and talk on the phone.  Anything and everything I want is delivered to my door. What more could a woman ask for?  Ummm…NOTHING!   I realize this is just my humble opinion, but I have embraced and love my hermitude!  Yeah, not a word, but I like it so I’m keeping it.

One down side to my different, (but totally AWSOME) lifestyle, is that over time I have accumulated TONS of cardboard boxes from all of the deliveries.   I do break them down and put them out on recycling day, but I can’t put out cardboard larger than 2′ x 2′ and the process of breaking the bigger boxes down into the proper size gets a bit tedious.  The result is a seemingly ever growing pile of boxes that takes up almost half of my garage at this point.  I have fondly started referring to it as Box Mountain.

I work on breaking down Box Mountain in my free time (hahahahaha).  I should also mention that living in the Midwest means that there aren’t a lot of days where it isn’t either too hot or too cold to be out in my garage for extended periods.  When the weather is nice, who wants to be stuck in the garage working on breaking down cardboard??  See my dilemma??

HEY!  I’ll use some of the flattened cardboard on the futons!!!!!!!!!!  If the dogs destroy it, I can just put it out for recycling because they’ll have torn it into small enough chunks for me.

Viola!!!  Problem solved…for now anyway.

Go for it Destructodog!!  I’ve got a LOT more where that came from.

 

 

Oh well

As many of you know, I recently adopted Henry as a playmate for Ferris.  Henry is such a fun, happy little guy.  Roly-poly, silly, and sweet as can be.  He picked up on the routine here quickly, and has been an easy pup for the most part.  As you can see by the photo, he’s super adorable too!

He has also earned his cookies being a die hard playmate for Ferris.  The two of them play and play and play, take a nap, and play some more.

Having Henry around was really helping Ferris curb his destructive tendencies, until this happened…

  

That’s right – Ferris AND Henry having a blast destroying the futon mattress.  Seems Henry is quite the quick learner.   I just couldn’t get mad, they were having too much fun.  Truth be told, I was planning on getting rid of it anyway because  Ferris had previously damaged it enough that it wasn’t worth keeping.  I had repaired the original hole, but this time Ferris found the side seam which made it much easier to do a lot of damage in short order.  Oh well, life is just too short, and they’ll only be puppies once right?