Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy holidays

I hope every one of you who might read this gets a special something from Santa. Maybe just a pretty sunrise over the snow tomorrow morning, and the knowledge that you have the day off to enjoy in small ways. Maybe a nice cup of tea and a special chocolate that you've saved for yourself. And give someone you love a long soft hug.

Have a great weekend, and a warm and cozy holiday season!

- Sonya, Brett, Mina, Jupiter and Bridget

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deep snow today

We got several inches overnight; I haven't seen this much snow here since we've lived in this house! Brett has ventured out to go to the Seahawks game with a neighbor; an adventure from which he will hopefully return tonight!

The streets are thick with snow, and just a few tire tracks. I wouldn't really want to try driving in it, though it seems more crunchy than icy.

Mina is much less interested in going outside than she was when there were just a couple of inches; the snow is so thick now that she has to hop like a bunny to get through it. Below is a little video of her bouncing through the snow at the park; please ignore my inane giggling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow snow snow snow snow snow

It's been snowing since about 7:30 am, and it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon! I stayed home from work, of course, and I couldn't even get out of the driveway earlier today. Mina loves it, though! The cats are somewhat less impressed.

Throw it! Throw it!!

Catching snowflakes


Sunday, December 14, 2008

The crazy thing we did

Oh, yeah; this happened too.

Bernard, my co-blogger over at the Ronald Bog Blog, convinced me that we should sign up for the local Top Foods charity sing-a-thon.


In public.

This is something I would never do. But somehow, it sounded like fun, so I called a couple of friends, and we met up at 3:00 on Saturday to practice our singing, which was scheduled for 5:00 that same evening. Bear in mind, now, that many of us had never met one another before. And factoring in drinking time (how else did you think I was going to do this?) we had less than 2 hours to practice singing together.

We had a songlist that we all put together; a few holiday songs, but also a lot of just fun-to-sing stuff. Joy to the World by Three Dog Night, for example, and Hey Jude, and Horse with No Name, that sort of thing. So we practiced for a bit, drank a bit, and headed over to the store to take our chances.

It was GREAT. We had so much fun. Somehow, even though we were shaky at home, something about being there together in a mostly quiet grocery store on a snowy Saturday night just...worked. Well, it felt like it did, even though I'm sure some of the shoppers that passed us wondered who could have possibly allowed this travesty. But we had fun, and at the end of the hour, after a rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (very fun to sing in a group, as you can imagine) we all wanted to just keep singing!

We even got a few of the store employees to join in; you can see one of them in the photo above, in his Top Foods cap and tie. That guy was great, belting it out like he'd been waiting his whole life for that particular unlikely moment that we showed up and started singing King of the Road.

So, the moral is, I guess...give it a try. Whatever it is. How bad could it be?

More pix here, for the curious:
Shoreline Bloggers Invade Top Foods

Mina discovers snow

I had been wondering what Mina would think about snow; we don't know that she's ever seen any yet (she was born in January of last year). I hoped it wouldn't freak her out and keep her from going out in the yard. Turns out, she liked it:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mina's ancestry solved, a new device used

It's been another dogful week. But then, a lot of life is more interesting now; it's not just go to work, cook dinner, go to sleep. This little critter is a big part of our lives. And we just learned a bunch of new things about owning her.

When we adopted Mina, they told us she was a dachshund/lab mix. Being that kind of person, I've been looking at photos of "dachsadors" or "doxadors" (or, dear me, "labraweenies") online to see what her mutt-mates look like. And without exception, that mix seems to result in a stumpy-legged dog. Mina, though, has proportionate legs to her size; she looks like a half-sized coonhound. For a while I was convinced she was in fact a German Pinscher, which is a match for coloration and size.

Finally I contacted the woman who had been fostering her before we adopted her, and asked if she had any more information on the pooch's ancestry. She said she'd contact the previous owners and ask what they knew. And sure enough, in a couple of days we had our answer.

Turns out the hound is a mix of beagle and springer spaniel, with some dachshund thrown in the mix as well. The beagle part made a lot of sense to both of us; we'd always both thought she seemed "beagley" in a way. And she has a cute, funny "aoww wow owww" noise she makes when she's playing that you can imagine coming from a beagle hot on the trail of game.

All three dog breeds in her lineage are bred to hunt, and are nose-oriented and can be stubborn. And my girl is sniffy as anything, and loves to chase and tree squirrels like it was her job. One of the unfortunate results of her hunting passion is that she does tend to pull on the leash when we walk; so much so that her foster mom only ever walked her on a harness. We'd trained her to be pretty good on a regular collar, but there still have been some frustrating walks when she insists that she wants to go smell that thing over there right now! And pulls like a sled dog to get there. Or stops to smell and digs her heels in to resist going any further on the walk until she has a good snootful.

We'd tried a lot of things to get her to stop pulling so much, but recently, I had an interesting conversation with a dog-loving friend about his experience with the dog he and his husband own. The prong collar did the trick, he said. Dog pulled once, realized that wasn't going to work, and has been good ever since (or something like that).

Now, I'd been sort of conditioned by various positive training sites online to think that prong collars (aka pinch collar, or more kindly, training collars) were the equivalent of a dark ages torture device. That guy in the DaVinci Code movie used one to punish himself, right? You don't do that to a dog! But hearing the results my friend had, I decided to do some research on my own. Turns out that prong collars are actually more used, and considered safer, by most trainers than choke collars. The prongs are supposed to simulate the teeth of the momma dog on a puppy's neck, gently reminding it to knock that behaviour off. I went to the store and bought one.

Still, I worried. Would she kill herself by driving the spikes into her throat? I wrapped the thing around my leg, on the skin, and gave it a few hard yanks. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt much at all. I had to really pull hard to feel any real pain. I put it on Mina and we started off...and the first time she lunged ahead, she didn't even get any real leverage on the leash before she backed off and fell back next to me. And sure enough, we had a two mile walk with almost no pulling at all...just a tiny bit, which she immediately stopped each time. I felt as though my dog had been switched out with some sort of super-trained special companion dog! We had a nice, relaxing walk together, her trotting along happily by my side, and me grinning like an idiot most of the way. It was lovely.

The second walk was just as good, and I think we've got ourselves a solution. The true test will be when she sees her very favorite dog in the world, little Quincy the teeny yorkie who we often meet on our walks. She could pull a sumo wrestler along in her attempt to get to her friend, as much as I want her to approach politely. I will be interested to see whether she can do that next time Quincy appears in the distance.