Maggie and Elsie are slowly becoming one giant furry monster.
It is adorable.
After breakfast and a shower, I had some time so I sat on the deck with all of the furry family. The swing on our deck is shaded from the morning sun by a very big something tree. The breeze was just light enough to prevent the summer morning from being stuffy and kept the deck at the perfect relaxation for me and the furries.
Ace was lounging on a hand-me-down table surveying his lands. Two chairs from the hand-me-down set protected him from Elsie’s curious muzzle. Maggie laid next to me in the swing and pondered at the leaves lazily dancing in the light breeze. Elsie was filled with too much energy to sit still for a second. She watched the cats with the determined eye of a scientist hungry for knowledge and understanding. Otto climbed the something tree. As he climbed higher, he would test each branch tentatively to ensure his footing.
As I ruminated on the peace of the morning and the pointlessness of leaving for work, a humming sounded from the tree. Four set of furry ears perked up. Ace landed on the deck with a heavy THUD! He slinked off the deck. A horsefly could be seen for a moment between these two small panthers. The tree erupted into chaos as the early morning hunt and murder took place.
Simultaneously, the peace on the deck was shattered by the stomping of a fifty-pound observer wished to become part of the action. My seat on the swing is set into motion when Maggie pushed off it to join the drama as well.
I found that I couldn’t stop smiling. The peace of the morning was cut off suddenly and very completely in one moment by the dark humour of nature. Yet, I wanted more moments like this to fill my life. I looked at my phone and realised I was running late.
It was worth it.
Every evening, Mum and Dad pack Elsie and me up in one of their cars and takes us to the park. Even Elsie, who doesn’t like car rides because they make her sick, gets excited about hopping in the car after the ball for this trip. We know we are going to “get worn out,” which is always a lot of fun – though I am not 100% sure what they mean by it. It seems to mean free reign at the park and running and running and running until no one wants to play with the ball anymore.
After a short drive, Mum jumps out of the car and gets the ball from between Elsie and me. Elsie bolts out of the backseat, unable to contain her excitement. I get out, wagging my tail so much it makes it difficult to squeeze from Mum’s backseat and to walk straight. (Going to the park is my favourite activity!)
As soon as we are both out of the car, Mum chucks the ball as far as she can. And thus begins the games. Dad usually gets it the first time, and he throws it even further.
We all chase the ball for a while. Once Mum and Dad get tired, we get the ball more often and change the game from monkeys in the middle or soccer…
We prefer keep-away and tug of war.
Elsie sometimes snags it out of thin air!
We always run our hardest…
And, we always leave happy and panting!
This is an easy task for the cats. We let them outside while we are away.
This is a process for the dogs. Sometimes I wonder why I could not just get a dumb dog, why did I have to get two VERY clever Bouviers? Entertaining them while we are away is a mental challenge for Donatello and myself. We just bought a house and are looking into buying a car, so our budget for this entertainment is well, I would rather not spend money. For those of you on this same budget trying to keep your dogs entertained, here are a few of our tricks.
Seriously. It costs almost nothing to keep a LED television running all day and it makes the dogs feel less alone. We play cartoons because they are filled with sounds and colours and we figure those are the only requirements for a dog. They do not like The Bare Bears. I have never seen as much destruction as Elsie brought upon me when I left The Bare Bears on all day. You have been warned.
Pro tip: We do not have cable so we have to use streaming programmes. Use Hulu, Netflix requires confirmation every three episodes. Hulu will play for 12 hours continuously.
This started with a game Maggie loved to play, Hide the Treat. It grew to hiding treats around the house for both dogs to find over the course of the day. One day it hit us, why use treats? It costs a lot and they find them in seconds, so Elsie looks for things to entertain her within an hour or two of her seven-hour day. We have Kongs, thankfully, which help to prolong this a bit. (Maggie will just sit with a Kong focused on it until it is empty, so we have to put peanut butter in it to stick the food to the back or freeze it so she cannot inhale hers and then go inhale Elsie’s before Elsie looks for it.)
We are going to try the upside down muffin tray with hidden treats in it. But, I just don’t foresee that being a challenge for these two.
I like this one. They cannot eat it until it is thawed, but they will play with it until then. I use the muffin tray (my dogs would inhale ice cubes and also I don’t have an ice cube tray) to freeze food in beef broth (with no added salt), I put it in their food bowl and let them decide when to get it. (I am convinced that Maggie eats the Kongs and Elsie eats the frozen food, but I have no proof of this. Just speculative at this point. Does anyone wish to donate a camera for scientific research?)
I also like this because our house reaches 78degF during the afternoon in the summer. This is a very small but effective way to keep them cooler.
When I leave, I give them a dental treat. Dental treats take a while to eat and help distract them as I leave. I no longer have to endure the pitiful, awful wail of a Bouvier assuming you are leaving them forever. It was heartbreaking…
Now, they get the treat. They look at me with the awareness that I will be leaving and gratefulness for the treat. Walk into their respective places (Elsie on the couch. Maggie in the hall in front of the laundry room door.) and begin to chew. Then, give me one more glance as if to say, “that’ll do.”
These are our trick and tips. Do you have any to keep your dogs busy?
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM is nap time for the furries in our house.
I captured some photos from yesterday’s nap time. Enjoy!
Maggie pretending she is asleep.
Elsie awoke by Mum trying to snap a picture.
Otto stretching during nap time.
Ace sound asleep on the preferred cat chair.
Rest well, my friends!
As with children, everyone you meet has advice for you when you have a puppy. As with the advice given to parents of children, the advice that is given to parents of furries is often well-meaning and useless.
At the end of the day, no one knows your puppy, kitty, cat, dog, son, daughter, lizard, bird, and household as you do. You deal with it every single day. You witness the ups and downs every single day. You get the feel of when to correct and when to be patient. You should follow the advice of professionals (as you should with children), but ultimately you are the leader of the pack and will make changes that your puppy requires.
Keep in mind advice is given for the average. Extremes are needed to make averages. It is also very possible your puppy, child, cat, etc. will conform to the standards in the books and it is equally possible she will buck the system and require all your creativity.
So… keep on, keeping on. You are the best mum or dad for your critter no matter what they say.