Sunday, May 28, 2006

Swimming season

I'm a perfectionist dog.

Atlas swimming, May 2006Today was the first real day of the swimming season. A few weeks ago, Dad put up the pool. He had been agitating for it for a while, but Mom advised him to hold off until it was warm enough for me to enjoy it. When the weatherman gave the all-clear signal, Dad and Mom labored over the pool for hours. They repaired the holes made by mice (guys, you're going to have to find a better place to store the pool than the mice-infested shed), and Dad painstakingly smoothed out the pool so there were no creases in the bottom. Then they filled it up.

It was botched. The pool wasn't centered over the earthworks platform Dad built last year. Or more accurately, it was slightly oval, causing it to hang over the east edge of the earthworks. This caused the pool to tilt dangerously, so it could not be filled very high. I got in one or twice and tried to enjoy myself, but I couldn't even porpoise, let alone really swim. Fortunately, I was saved by a week of bad weather. Otherwise, I would have been forced to come up with daily excuses for not getting in, and I hate that.

Dad, I appreciate the effort, but please get it right next time. I had to have Mom empty the pool, move it a few inches west, and refill it. (The water made the pool so heavy that even a powerful dog such as myself could not have moved it.)

But I'm a forgiving dog, and the pool was filled in time for today's 90-degree weather. I'll tell you, I really enjoyed that refreshing water after the long walk. I swam and swam and yipped and yipped. I hope I impressed those two Australian Shepherds who moved in next door yesterday. I'd like to see them swim the way I can.

Dad, when you were a kid and used to put up pools with Grandpa, you used surveying equipment worth the cost of a new car. Now you are using sticks, fishing line, a $5 level, and gut instinct. C'mon, let's do it right next time.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dog Jog 2005 excuses

Atlas after Dog Jog 2005I'm a philosophical dog.

Today I attended the U of Wisconsin Vet School Dog Jog for the seventh time. Each fall, this event provides an opportunity for dogs and their owners to meet each other, compliment each other on their beauty (but apparently only if you're a bluetick coonhound), enjoy the once-scenic campus, and get a little exercise. What's important is that everyone enjoy themselves and have good, clean fun. Everyone's a winner at this fine event. It's not the competition, it's the togetherness.

This is a way of saying that I didn't do too well this year.

Mom thinks she and I came in about sixth place in the women's division. Usually we get to stand on the podium after the race, where we get a trophy and a bag of treats. That didn't happen this year. However, I did get some treats from the local pet food store booth, anyway, so I guess it's OK.

Juno slobbering after Dog Jog 2005Dad and Juno were also in the rac--err, event. That fat slob of a sister led much of the way. (If you don't think she's a slob, take a look at this picture of her taken after the run.) But what counts is who crosses the finish line first, eh, Juno? And Mom and I crossed a good 25 seconds before Dad and Juno. Ha!

But I'm a big-hearted dog, so I won't rub it in. As a matter of fact, I kind of felt sorry for Juno. She "hit the wall" toward the end of the, ahhh, activity, and was reduced to a slow walk in the last hundred feet. The crowd cheered her lustily, and she recovered soon enough afterwards.

A philosophical dog such as myself doesn't make excuses. But in the interests of scientific accuracy, I should tell you the circumstances surrounding the disappoi--err, different-than-expected results.

Mom has a bit of a cold, and had spent all day Friday picking cranberries in a bog. So, she wasn't at her best. It was hot, which isn't the best for certain thickly-furred dogs. (That didn't prevent me from taking off like a rocket at the beginning, though.) Juno has been taking 80mg of phenobarbital twice a day, and it has slowed her down. Dad has been fighting various aches and pains, but overall he wasn't too badly off.

And the competition--I mean the other members of our joyful Dog Jog fellowship--seemed particularly good this year. One woman would have looked completely at home toeing the line in the Olympic 1500 meter finals.

I can't wait until next year. I am really looking forward to beating--I mean greeting--those other dogs next time!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pulled muscle

Atlas on floor with hurt armOh, woe is me. I hurt my right arm yesterday, so today I was not able to compete in the local Ironman Triathlon.

I guess I pulled a muscle jumping off the couch yesterday morning before going for a walk. But I didn't really have a problem during the hour and forty-five minutes we were walking. And when we got home, I played furiously in the pool. When the water level is low the way is has been lately, I love to porpoise (jump around) in the water and bark and bark and bark. Sometimes Dad tells me to be quiet, so I pipe down for 15 seconds or so. When Mom says to be quiet, I know I don't have to take her seriously.

But later in the day yesterday, I was really limping. I knew that this was going to put the kibosh on my triathlon plans.

Now, this isn't the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii, of course. It's the Madison, Wisconsin version run by the same organization. If it had been the Hawaii Ironman, I would have done a little preparation for it--maybe practiced some ocean swimming, or learned how to ride a bike. But a big, strong, healthy dog like myself doesn't need to worry about local competition. My nearly-daily swimming routine and natural talent should certainly carry the day on the first leg of the triathlon. On the last leg, well, I got a second-place trophy in the Dog Jog last year, so it stands to reason that I should be the second-fastest runner in the triathlon. As for the cycling leg, well, if Dad can bicycle, it can't be that hard. I figured I'd borrow one of his bikes--maybe the cool orange one--and learn on the the morning of the race.

But now I'm going to be sidelined--out of the running altogether. Maybe it's just as well. Today the temperature is going to go up to 92 degrees, and I don't mind admitting that I find that uncomfortable. I can't take off my double-layer fur coat for the run.

Now I'm worried about Dog Jog next weekend. Will my injury have healed by then? My trainer, Mom, doesn't know the meaning of the word "rest". I have a feeling I'll be putting in some serious miles this week, leading up to the race. No pain, no gain.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Juno's seizures 2

Juno with Almond Butter, July 2005Juno has had a lot more seizures since her first one in September 2004. When she has one, she often has another one within a day or so. They only last about a half a minute or so, but they are grand mal seizures that leave her gasping for breath for minutes afterwards.

Poor Juno. She is scared during and after the seizures. She likes to have Mom or Dad around afterwards to comfort her.

I used to be a little scared, too, when I saw her jerking around uncontrollably. But seeing as how I'm a big, brave dog, it didn't take long for me to get over it. Now when I see one happening, I don't worry so much. But I know it means that once, again, Juno will be getting all the attention, while I sit around like Chopped Liver. Mom and Dad even have a nickname for me: C. L. Very funny. Ha, ha, ha.

Not to belittle Juno's suffering, but her seizures--or even the prospect of seizures--are also taking their toll on certain other members of the family. Mom won't sleep with the air-conditioner on anymore, for fear that she won't hear Juno having a seizure and won't be there to comfort her. We ordinarily don't use the air-conditioner much, but it has been very hot this summer, and some of us have two layers of coat that they can't take off.

Ah, well. There are some advantages, too. After catching her breath after a seizure, Juno is very mellow. In fact, Juno, who does not always appreciate other dogs who come up to greet her enthusiastically, has been calmer around other dogs lately. Maybe this means we can go to off-leash dog parks more often now.

And: Juno now takes phenobarbital twice a day to control her condition. (The vet said that it's not practical to try to diagnose the cause of the seizures; all you can do is treat it with drugs that help prevent them.) Mom says her childhood dog Peabody used to spit out pills they gave him. Juno is less picky about what she eats. But just to be sure, Mom feeds her the pills wrapped in cheese. Mmmmmm, cheese. And--bless her--Mom tries to be fair to me by also feeding me some cheese at the same time. Way to go, Mom!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Will bark for meat

Juno's dollarIt's time for me to get out of the house and get a job.

Mom likes to make fun of me, calling me a lazy dog. But then she admits that my job is to sit on the couch most of the day, then go for a walk and hopefully a swim. And I do a bang-up job at that, don't I, Mom! Darn right.

Still, I sometimes wonder whether I could be more useful to my fellow creatures. Juno helps by finding money when we go on walks, and by peeing on the floor to let Mom know it's time to clean the carpet. The only thing I do other than my assigned duties (see above) is to bark the mailman away every day. I could do with a little more ambition.

That's why I was thrilled to learn of the positions opening up in some place called Andhra Pradesh, India. It seems that a dog's barking woke up police at a police station and warned them of an impending attack by rebels. (Some might wonder why police would be asleep in the station, but I am understanding on matters like that.) Now police there are being ordered to feed street dogs rice and meat to make them feel at home around the stations. "The street dogs will become our ears and eyes," said a police boss.

This sounds great. I love meat and rice, but Mom gives it to me only when I have certain digestive problems that I'd rather not talk about. My only concern is the "street dog" part. I don't know whether I'd qualify. I don't get to walk in the street much--it's either the sidewalk or a park. I've even given up trying to jump in front of big trucks driving down the street, because Mom won't let me and always pulls me back. Maybe I'll have to start trying again, so I can put "street dog" on my job application.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

My pool vs. the Hoover Dam

Pool Earthenworks, April 2005It's the biggest civil engineering project since the Hoover Dam.

That's what Dad says. He's talking about the installation of my pool this year.

The first two years we had the pool, it was on a slanted part of the back yard, so the pool was tilted. As a result, we couldn't fill the pool completely. So, I when I used the pool, I did as much "porpoising" as swimming. (For those of you are who aren't experts at swimming like me, this means you bounce off the bottom.) I had fun. But the pool did not meet the standards of Mom and Dad. I'm glad that I have parents with high standards--at least when it comes to important things.

So this year, Dad bought two cubic yards of dirt and spread out the dirt on the lower part of the area where the pool goes. This made a level platform for the pool. Then yesterday, Mom and Dad set up the pool and filled it. Smoothing out the bottom of the pool takes a long time. It was said that if either of my Grandpas had been there, there would have been foul language. But there were no fouls with just Dad and Mom around.

I didn't realize what was going on. Was that really a swimming pool? Who ever heard of filling a swimming pool in Wisconsin on April 16?

Getting stick from side of poolBut today when we got back from a long, hot walk, I knew what that pool was all about. At first, I was reluctant to get in. Mom tried to entice me in by throwing my big stick into the pool so I'd fetch it. But I fooled her. I got the stick out of the pool from the side, without getting into the pool.

It didn't take long for me to work up the courage to plunge in. The pool is taller than last year, because it has more water in it. But a powerful jumper such as myself can overcome difficulties like that.

Atlas slapping at waterSoon I was swimming and swimming, barking and biting the water. Thanks, Mom and Dad. And you, too, President Hoover.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

My ice obsession

I am obsessed with eating ice. I am so obsessed that I told my story separately to Mom and Dad so we’d get two blog entries. Looks as if my trick worked, didn’t it?

This time of year there is lots of ice in my back yard and on the streets where we walk. I will eat ice until my whole body quivers and my teeth chatter. Then I come into the house and act really hyper, digging up blankets and tossing couch cushions around the living room. Mom thinks maybe my brain gets frozen, kind of like an "ice cream headache," not that I would know what that is since I never get ice cream.

It takes a long time until I stop shivering, but then I want to go back outside to eat more ice. This drives Mom nuts. She doesn’t mind if I eat ice if it’s a weekend and she’ll be at home, but she yells at me if I eat ice in the morning before she goes to work or if it’s getting towards bedtime. She says something about how I’ll have to go potty, but I don’t really get the connection. I mean, ice is hard and solid—-not liquid like water. How could ice make me go potty?

The next best thing to ice is snow. It’s not as crunchy and satisfying as ice, but it’s okay for a change—-it’s kind of like "ice lite." Also, I like to roll in snow. Mom doesn’t mind that at all. She says that makes me clean, and everybody likes a clean dog.

Another thing about ice is that you can walk on it. Mom takes me to the lake by campus where I go swimming in the summer. But in the winter, they take away the lake and put a big piece of ice in its place. I haven’t been able to eat that big, lake-size piece of ice, but I do enjoy running on it.

There are all these guys who think there are fish underneath the ice. They sit out in the cold all day waiting for the fish to bite onto the string they put into the ice. Why would a fish want to be smooshed under the big piece of ice? I’m glad Mom just wants to walk and not sit there with a pole and string waiting for fish. /psm