Monday Mischief 25: When the folks are away…

As I mentioned last week, the Husband and I just got back from a nice long holiday abroad.

So, while were off to sites like this:

Brandenburg Gate

…what did Moses and Alma do while we were away?

Well, they both went to hang out with friends.

Moses went to hang out with Crosby and Dion and their family (who you’ve seen here before many times).

Moses and his temporary pack

Moses and his temporary pack

Evidently Moses got up to a bit of mischief – the stick chewer got his jowls on a wooden alphabet block and gnawed it beyond recognition. Not sure which letter, but we know who’s responsible for any potential spelling setbacks.

Who, us?

Who, us?

Trying to keep up with the faster pups

Trying to keep up with the faster pups

Alma had her time split between two places.

First she was off to hang out with Eddy.

Alma & Eddy

Alma & Eddy

It was at Eddy’s house that Alma managed to get her paws on dinner, snagging a ribeye off the counter!

"Sorry I stole your dinner"

“Sorry I stole your dinner”

Then she was off to stay with her buddy Juniper (who’s also made appearances here before), where, like Moses, she also made BFFs with a toddler, earning herself the name “Malma” and taking a dip in the kiddie pool.

Alma & Juniper

Alma & Juniper

Other than the odd bit of mischief, I’ve been assured they were both good houseguests. After so much excitement, I’m sure Moses and Alma are both finding the usual routine kind of boring.

But it’s definitely nice having such great places for Moses and Alma to stay when we go away – we missed them, but it was so nice to not have to stress about their wellbeing!

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, visit Snoopy’s Dog Blog here, My Brown Newfies here, or Alfie’s Blog here.

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Monday Mischief 24: Chow Time!

This weekend, Moses got some company: Homer and Kimbo!

(Alma is off at work with the Husband and wasn’t home to hang out with our visitors.)

Homer, Moses, and Kimbo... I think I need to find a bigger bench

Homer, Moses, and Kimbo… I think I need to find a bigger bench

Moses and Homer go way back to training class when they were pups, and both chows have stayed with us before.

Furry trio

Furry trio

Walking these three sure does draw some attention. I think my favourite comment of the weekend was the lady who thought Moses was the “momma dog” and Homer and Kimbo were “her pups”. Probably the first time Moses has ever been mistaken for a female dog!

So photogenic!

So photogenic!

Homer kept an eye out for mischief in the rain

Homer kept an eye out for mischief, but not much was going on in the rain

And they didn't always cooperate with my photo ops. It's easy to get them to sit. To look in the same direction, however...

And they didn’t always cooperate with my photo ops. It’s easy to get them all to sit. To look in the same direction, however…

Sometimes it's just easier to stick to one-on-one

Sometimes it’s just easier to stick to one-on-one

I think Moses was happy I had other faces to stick the camera in for a couple days, but he wasn’t completely off the hook.

Posing for photos as storm clouds roll in

Posing for photos as storm clouds roll in

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, visit Snoopy’s Dog Blog here, My Brown Newfies here, or Alfie’s Blog here.

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Monday Mischief 22: Good Morning!

The alarm hasn’t gone off, so it’s not time to get up quite yet.

At least, not according to me.

But I can hear it. And feel it. Panting. Hot breath.

Sure, it could be a serial killer like in a movie, but I know it’s not.

I open one eye.

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Good morning, Moses!

"Just checking to see if you're awake yet."

“Just checking to see if you’re awake yet.”

Alma’s definitely not left out of this routine.

Moses and Alma wake-up call

Moses and Alma wake-up call

Even Crosby, who stayed with us for a couple of weeks but went home this weekend, checks in.

Crosby

Crosby

"No, no, just get up on your own time. I'll be here when you're ready."

“No, no, just get up on your own time. I’ll be here when you’re ready.”

Though, this weekend Moses and Crosby eventually decided to start the day without me.

Mo vs Crosby

What do you wake up to?

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, visit Snoopy’s Dog Blog here, My Brown Newfies here, or Alfie’s Blog here.

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Monday Mischief 21: How many dogs is too many? (aka: The Time I Got Bit By a Dog Named Cujo)

My neighbourhood is lucky to have a small off-leash area frequented by neighbourhood dogs and their owners.

Moses enjoying the scents of a February melt

Moses enjoying the scents of a February melt

Moses and I were enjoying a stroll through that very area this Saturday when we saw two guys approaching in the distance with a black lab off leash nearby.

I didn’t recognize them, which was unusual because after walking with Moses the past 5+ years I’ve come to recognize most neighbourhood canines. But in any case, nothing about the dog or the guys raised any red flags, so we kept on course and headed in their direction.

Shortly thereafter, a gorgeous husky appeared on the horizon, also with the guys. And then off to the right two adorable and nearly identical little staffordshire terriers frolicking in the grass. Finally, a fifth dog appeared – some sort of yellow lab/shepherd mix, attached to a thick rope long line that I noticed later.

This last dog was the only one whose name I’d eventually learn: Cujo.

(Side question: at what point does naming your dog Cujo become a self-fulfilling prophecy?)

We continue to approach and the dogs greet while the usual chit chat about Moses’ weight, age, and shedding ensues.

The dog greetings go quite well and the pups disperse a bit, while Moses and Cujo come over to where I’m answering the usual 20 questions that come with having a Newfoundland dog in your home.

At one point, Cujo takes some exception to Moses’ proximity and bears his teeth. The one I will designate Guy No. 1 scolds with a “Cujo!”, but it wasn’t a big deal – Moses takes the hint and backs off.

But it was only a few moments later when Cujo takes even further exception to Moses and snaps at him a little.

Now, a noisy little kerfuffle at the dog park doesn’t normally agitate me. If dogs want to hurt one another, they will. But a little noise and teeth is rarely anything to worry about, in my experience. It’s usually short lived and the dogs diffuse the situation naturally with no harm done to any party.

Also having a giant dog with a track record of not unduly escalating situations – but adequately standing up for himself – also affords me some confidence in these situations.

However, when humans intervene, things can usually go sideways, as was the case on Saturday.

I was perfectly content to let Moses and Cujo quickly sort their differences, but Guy No. 1 was not. Instead he grabbed Cujo’s long line and gave it a hard tug while scolding him once more.

Of course, Cujo did not see it that way. Dogs, as you should know, can redirect those kinds of things. So while in a kerfuffle with Moses, Cujo did not interpret the jerk on his chain as some sort of earned correction for rude behaviour. Instead, he felt the added tension and discomfort while interacting with Moses and thought “oh no you didn’t you sonofabitch” and escalated.

Moses stood up for himself, and some more noise ensued.

An artist rendering of the altercation

An artist rendering of the altercation

Unfortunately, this time the other dogs sensed the more serious intent and Cujo’s pack stepped in to defend him.

The lab stayed out of it, and the husky kept a close watch on the situation, but the two staffies got right in the mix to defend their buddy’s honour.

A accurate, dramatic reinactment:

Now, as dog owners, we all know our number one responsibility is to protect our dogs. And even though I might be content to let Moses resolve differences on his own most of the time, when he’s facing multiple sets of teeth, I don’t care how much bigger he is – it made me uncomfortable.

So while Guy No. 1 and Guy No. 2 stood idly by, I stepped in to protect my dog.

I inserted myself between Moses and one of the dogs, grabbed his collar, and hauled him out of there and away from the fray. As we gained distance, the other dogs started to back off. Eventually Guy No. 1 got a hold of Cujo’s long line and reigned him in, and Guy No. 2 picked up one of the staffies so it couldn’t follow. The whole thing was a few noisy seconds.

Once diffused, I put Moses in a sit, leashed him up, and inspected him for marks. Nothing – thankfully.

Then I inspected my jacket for punctures. At one point during the whole thing, Cujo chomped on my forearm. Hard. I noticed it, but was too preoccupied to react.

I’m certain he didn’t intentionally target me. Like how Tony in West Side Story (spoiler alert), consumed in the rumble between the Sharks and Jets, gets overcome and caught up in the moment and doesn’t think when he instinctively stabs Bernardo in revenge. (Okay, so broadway may have been touring here last week – I still can’t get America out of my head.)

But if that unfortunately-named dog had put holes in my Arc’teryx jacket, I would not have been impressed. Luckily, nothing but drool.

As Moses and I were composing ourselves, Guy No. 2 starts up with the most awkward chit chat ever. After he tries to reassure me that Moses “could’ve taken them” (I replied that I’d never want it to come to that), he starts nattering on about how one of the staffies is a super loud snorer and inquires if Moses is the same. I look up and he’s now carrying the staffie over his shoulder like it were a giant bag of flour. So weird. Behind him, Guy No. 1 apologized profusely whenever Guy No. 2 pauses to catch his breath.

I assure them we’re fine, tell Guy No. 2 that Moses does indeed snore loudly and often, and then we make our exit, while Guy No. 1 shouts apologies after us.

After getting home, further inspection shows Moses made it out better than I did. Through my jacket and a hoodie, Cujo managed to land a few good puncture marks and some decent bruising. How he didn’t rip the jacket is beyond me, but I’m still thankful.

But it made me think – if that’s the kind of force he was going after Moses with, I am incredibly happy I intervened. There’s no long-term damage, but still. Ouch. I don’t want Moses to experience that.

(And yes, if you step in to break up a dog fight, you are putting yourself at risk to get injured. I know this, but still didn’t hesitate. I’m a big girl; I’ll be fine.)

Moses

Moses

It also made me think of something else: is it wise to take 5 dogs to the off-leash park?

The most I’ve taken solo is two, and that’s about perfect for me if I want to be responsible about it.

2 guys, 5 dogs – seems out numbered (at least it turned out to be for those two guys). Seems difficult to keep an eye on all of the behaviour – and all of the poop scooping.

And considering Cujo was on a long line, obviously they knew he was some kind of liability. Maybe Cujo should get some one-on-one time. Or maybe be accompanied by a smaller pack. Sure we all take risks when letting our dogs off leash, but I don’t think they were setting anyone up for success when they left their home(s).

I know there are dog walkers out there who walk many more than a couple dogs at once. I’m not talking about that. They’re professionals who carefully choose the members of their packs and walk them regularly (the good companies, anyway). If these guys were pros, I wouldn’t hire them.

And I’m also not talking about maximum number of dogs per household. Calgary has no such regulation and I don’t think one is needed. A person so inclined can abuse or neglect one dog just as easily as they can many, and I personally know people with four dogs in their homes who take better care of all four than many other owners out there with just one-dog households.

But I’m talking about being honest with you and your dog’s skills and abilities. It’s okay to leave one dog at home while you walk the other. I do it frequently with Moses and Alma just for the practice and bonding time.

It’s also okay to not take your dog to the off-leash park. Ever, if you don’t want to or shouldn’t. Off-leash is neither a right nor a necessity; what is necessary is giving your dog positive experiences and properly socializing and training them.

Luckily, Moses and I swung through the same place again on Sunday (back on the horse, as they say), where he was able to gain some positive experiences with some neighbourhood regulars.

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This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

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Monday Mischief 20: Up – and Down – One Canine

The past few days, we saw both a loss, and a gain, in canine.

The loss, was Moses’ canine. The x-ray showed the tooth should be removed. And removal then confirmed it – the tooh wasn’t super healthy, so extraction was definitely in Moses’ best interests.

(Gross photo warning in 3… 2… )

Added a comparison quarter for readers below the border.

The removed tooth. (Added a comparison quarter for readers below the border.)

Moses was allowed back on regular exercise the next day, and has been recovering well. He gets pain killers once a day and antibiotics twice a day, and is otherwise doing well. Soft food is a must, but on a raw diet, we just need to make sure it’s fully thawed.

Post-op Moses. A little swelling

Post-op Moses. A little swelling – but it’s going down.

BUT, we also gained a canine!

After nearly a month away, Alma and the Husband are home for some well-deserved time off.

Alma

Alma’s home!

Who knows – maybe Alma can help keep Mo’s mind off his sore face while he heals up.

Moses and Alma at the park

Moses and Alma at the park

And we even went to Nose Hill Park, and it was completely enjoyable and uneventful.

So, not much mischief to speak of, but that’s intentional this weekend.

Moses

Moses

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

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Monday Mischief 19: Moses Meets a Porcupine

After recounting a traumatizing tale at Nose Hill Park for you last week, I thought maybe Moses and I should revisit the scene of the crime. It is a super huge, nice park with a great off-leash area and lots of trails to follow, after all.

A photo of Calgary Commander Hadfield took when in command of the International Space Station (ISS). So cool. That massive dark spot in the NW is Nose Hill Park.

A photo of Calgary Commander Hadfield took when in command of the International Space Station (ISS). So cool. That massive dark spot in the NW is Nose Hill Park.

So off we went.

Moses at Nose Hill

Moses at Nose Hill

I really do like Nose Hill Park. It’s multi-use, which can be a recipe for conflict when you have runners, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, cyclists, families, and dog owners all sharing the same space. But the off-leash areas are well-marked (both for when you’re entering and leaving them), and there are several paths that guarantee running into others is a rarity.

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The thing about having 11km² of parkland in the city (1129 hectares; 4.2 mi²) is that it’s also a great place for wildlife. We’ve seen lots of birds, deer, and heard coyotes howling, and have heard tonnes of stories of porcupine encounters at the park.

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Until recently, however, neither Moses nor Alma had met a porcupine.

Now, before I go any further, there’s an acknowledgement and disclosure I must make as a fallible dog owner: I did not re-leash Moses the second I knew there was a porcupine in the area. I most certainly should have, and had even had the opportunity to, but the fact that I did not, I suppose, shows that my natural cynicism does give way to optimism from time to time.

But I did not, and thus mischief ensued.

Just a crappy iPhone pano shot, but it really displays the Chinook arches we're so fond of seeing in Calgary during the winter.

Just a crappy iPhone pano shot, but it really displays the Chinook arches we’re so fond of seeing in Calgary during the winter.

We were starting to turn back towards the parking lot when Moses and I came across another dog walker and her two dogs on the path. One of her dogs had noticed a porcupine in a small tree nearby, but the dogs were all busy greeting one another and the porcupine remained still and out of reach. Moses was oblivious.

Oblivious… right up until he wasn’t.

Unbeknownst to me, while we were socializing, the porcupine decided to abandon his perch and sought a new, higher one in a thick clump of trees nearby.

I did not notice this development, but Moses did.

So Moses immediately galloped off to make a new friend.

To the porcupine’s credit, he was fast and did not let the interest of a giant canine in pursuit distress him. He had a destination, and he just kept on truckin’.

And to the porcupine’s good fortune, the snow was incredibly deep.

I know this because as soon as Moses took off, I shouted profanities took off after him, and soon found myself wading through snow higher than my knees. Luckily, having half as many legs to navigate through the snow as Mo does means I was able to gain on him, even despite stumbling; snow down the back of my jeans was the least of my worries.

The trees were very thick and the porcupine had some good cover as the frantic parade approached.

By the time I caught up, Moses was struggling in the trees and deep slow to greet the fleeing porcupine.  The chance of dozens of quills in Mo’s muzzle seemed a near guarantee. Where Moses ended and porcupine began, I couldn’t immediately determine.

I could see the porcupine had a deficit of quills in its tail and backside (the result of another curious canine, perhaps?), and I could hear Moses sniffing and see him straining to keep up the retreating animal, who just stayed his course, refusing to acknowledge the chaos behind him.

Moses was persistent, so in order to prevent any further escalation of the situation, I grabbed the best handle I could find: poor Mo’s tail. Moses yelp-barked (yarked?) in protest and looked back at me, giving me the opportunity to grab his collar and guide him back through the deep snow, leaving the porcupine in peace to find safety in a new tree.

The porcupine on his perch

The porcupine on his perch

I leashed Moses back up and rejoined the amused spectator on the path with her two dogs, where my examination of Moses confirmed the porcupine kept all his quills on his own body.

Our audience’s laughter was constant in the background during the whole ordeal, and rightfully so. I’m sure the whole thing looked ridiculous. I relayed the story to the Husband who said it was a shame there was no video of it – we could put it in black and white, speed it up, and put it to circus music,  à la Charlie Chaplin.

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I always had a dangerous curiosity about what Moses might do in a situation like that, so at least now that has been sated. As expected (remind me to tell you a mouse story in the future), Moses just wants to meet the other animal. Be friends. Even if the animal doesn’t want to be friends; Moses just has an inquisitive and harmless nature.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t actively prevent any future Moses/porcupine greetings in the future. I got lucky this time.

Moses, pretty content with himself and his mischief at the park

Moses, pretty content with himself and his mischief at the park

When it comes to dog/porcupine interactions, I’m generally going to be more concerned about the porcupine. A few quills may have resulted in discomfort for Mo and a veterinary bill for me, but the consequences for the porcupine are greater.

And had things gone differently, I would’ve been making sure two animals got care: Moses to the vet, and the porcupine to the wildlife centre (related: see this quarter’s Blog the Change post on local wildlife rescue and rehabilitation).

So that’s what I’m going to leave you with: I know in the moment your own dog will be your concern, but don’t forget about the porcupine. They’re docile, adorable animals and it’s not their fault our dumb dogs are off-leash. If the porcupine is injured, keep an eye on it and call the local wildlife centre so they can get a volunteer out to help.

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

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Monday Mischief 18: Christmas Recap

If I had to make an alliterative list to quickly sum up the last week it would include Christmas, kilometres, and, of course, canines.

Lots of pups in Osoyoos, BC for  the holidays! Moses, my parents' dog Joshua, Crosby (who's hanging out over the break), and Alma.

Lots of pups in Osoyoos, BC for the holidays! Moses, my parents’ dog Joshua, Crosby (who’s hanging out with us over the break and got to come on our road trip), and Alma.

And I can’t mention Christmas 2013 without a HUGE shout-out to Cindy at Bird Brains & Dog Tales. For those who don’t know, Cindy has an awesome Etsy shop where she makes personalized dog toys (among other things).

Presents under the tree.

Presents under the tree.

They were a big hit and I’m even able to report they’re all still fully intact, which is both amazing and unlikely given Alma and Joshua’s reputations as toy destroyers.

Dogs and their new toys. Moses really was happy - that's just his default face. Kind of like RBF, but for dogs.

Dogs and their new toys. Moses really was happy – that’s just his default face. Kind of like RBF, but for dogs.

Crosby may not have received one, but trust me, she had fun playing with everyone else’s and was certainly not left out at the dog park!

Crosby, the fetch superstar

Crosby, the fetch superstar

Action shot!

Action shot!

Alma, trying to keep up with the fast dogs

Alma, keeping up with the fast dogs

Moses beats out the competition for the frisbee in an unexpected plot twist

Moses beats out the competition for the frisbee in an unexpected plot twist

Post-park nap time. Crosby likes to cuddle up to Moses.

Post-park nap time.

We’re back home in Calgary now – and Alma and the Husband have already made the journey back up north for work. But I still have a few more days of mischief until I need to report back to the office myself.

Hope everyone else is enjoying their holiday breaks, too!

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Monday Mischief

Monday Mischief 17: Calgary Blue Itself

Public art has once again started controversy in Calgary.

I’d written before about the Peace Bridge, which I like a lot and is growing into a city icon. And now there’s something new stirring up similar opinions about cost and aesthetics.

It’s called Travelling Light, but is better known as the “big blue ring”. So I decided Moses and I should check out what was behind all the ruckus.

Moses and the blue ring

Moses and the blue ring

Now, I’m not entirely certain it’s the best we could’ve got for the price tag, but if you watch this video produced by the city and the creators of the ring, you can really understand how it came to be.

Travelling Light

Travelling Light

But whether or not I like it, I also have trouble getting worked up about it too, and I know there are lots of Calgarians out there with nothing nice to say about the blue ring.

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But regardless of whether I like every installation, I will always support the public art budget and support iconic pieces being placed around the city.

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Moses - maybe the first dog to sit on the new art

Moses – maybe the first dog to sit on the new art (was a tight fit)

And then, since we’d already driven across the city solely so I could make an Arrested Development pun in my title (c’mon, you’d known all along)…

… I decided it was a good opportunity to check out a park we’ve never been to, and did the day’s walk at Confluence Park.

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Turned out to be a great place for a walk – very quiet and not very busy – but the constant planes taking off regularly ruined the serenity, since it’s rather close to the airport.

The park has a creek running through it, though, so it automatically gets Moses' seal of approval.

The park has a creek running through it, though, so it automatically gets Moses’ seal of approval.

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Monday Mischief

Monday Mischief 16: Two Tails in Two Cities

Okay, so I might be stretching for the Dickens reference.

Like a lot of Calgarians, the Husband has a job that takes him north for various periods of time. This time, to keep him company, he decided to take Alma with him. Because that’s the great thing about having two dogs – we can share!

Alma on a road trip. Get it? Road trip!

Alma on a road trip. Get it? Road trip!

They’ve been away for almost a week, leaving Moses and I here at home with the cats.

Alma & Husband

Alma & Husband

So while Alma is off galavanting northern Alberta, Moses is hanging out with me – where the weather has been warmer and drier.

Neighbourhood walk with Moses

Neighbourhood walk with Moses

The arrangement isn’t so bad, really. Separating Moses and Alma allows us to give the dogs some one-on-one time, which probably isn’t as frequent as it should be under normal circumstances.

Moses

Moses

I don’t know that there’s any particular mischief – beyond the Husband and I competing in fall photographs – to report, but the Newfs how have the province covered, should there be any.

Monday Mischief

This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Monday Mischief 15: 3 Provincial Parks in 3 Days

I don’t know about you, but when the weather starts to change from summer, I want to be outside way more now than when it’s 30°C (86°F for friends below the border).

And there’s definitely also a noticeable pep added to Moses’ step when the temperature starts to be routinely below 15°C (59°F). So we picked some scenic nearby provincial parks to walk the dogs this weekend.

Here was our itinerary.

Friday: Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

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Saturday: Fish Creek Provincial Park

Moses & Alma

Moses & Alma

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

Alma speaks softly and carries a big stick

Alma speaks softly and carries a big stick

Sunday: Spray Valley Provincial Park

Alma & Moses (and Uriel the Bouvier in the background)

Alma & Moses (and Uriel the Bouvier in the background)

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

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This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

Monday Mischief