Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Curious Concentration of Coiffures

Our walkies frequently include strolls down to our village center. A quaint collection of about a dozen shops including our favorite pizza establishment and the ever tempting bagel store.

Oddly, amongst those dozen businesses, there are no fewer than 5 human grooming parlors which I reckon at just over 40% which strikes me as, well, a curiosity to say the least.

Shall I show you?

First up is Salon Alberto.

Alberto actually provides momma with hair trimming services. He's from a place called Columbia which is somewhere in South America (even further south than Pennsylvania). 

Poor Alberto, he does try his best, but momma is notoriously inept at hair care. In fact one time she asked Alberto "why does my hair always look so much better when YOU style it?" To which Alberto infamously replied "because it SHOULD." 

Then we have the mysterious Hair Centre 1, with access via this nondescript doorway into places unknown. I'm not so sure about this one. In all the times we've been walking here, I've never seen anyone go in or out even though the "Open" sign is shockingly displayed at all hours.

Then there is Keli's. A new place that has taken over the former home of the tattoo parlor. Keli used to work for Alberto, but then she vanished for about ten years to do human baby type activities. Now she is back with her own place (Alberto has no concerns, his clientele - comprised almost exclusively of "mature" ladies - is quite loyal).

For man humans, a barber shop (and also a spot to get all those legal documents notarized). I'm not fond of that barber. He is usually just sitting in his chair casting grumpy looks on all who pass by. Plus Master says he is a big gossip.

And finally, the Hair Spa. They should have checked with me before setting up shop. There's a new beauty parlor here every couple of years. The problem is that they always try to attract hip, young humans. And to be honest, the ladies and gents who come to our center for their hair grooming needs seem to be universally and decidedly not hip.

Perhaps with a Black Dog at the entrance their business would improve.

So, what do you think? Weird, I know.

In other news, after a five day, weather induced sabbatical, we have resumed walkies. 

During daylight hours, no problem, but Momma says that after dark walkies remain suspended.


You might think because there are vast ice plains on the side streets because our town ran out of money to keep them clear.

Reminds me of the Olympics. Speed skating anyone?

You might also think it is because there are gigantic potholes of undetermined depth waiting to swallow hapless labradogs.

Stay back, Momma! You don't know how far down that goes!

But the real reason is this!

Harmless looking sidewalks where the road surface is easily discerned during daylight, but at night, one cannot tell if this is a shadow, dampness, or the dreaded ICE!

Dexter done!

P.S. Did you see my new bling? It's called a Spot the Dog collar. Momma's been noticing lately how much she appreciates joggers and bicyclists who wear bright gear, even during the daytime. What with avoiding ice and potholes and mad drivers, there is always something to distract humans trying to navigate in vehicles (oh and also the blinding glare of sun on salt coated windshields), so she thought a little orange on the Black Dog couldn't hurt. Besides, I think it makes me look sporty.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Life Defined by Snow

Friends, we have reached the point that comes every winter when our lives are completely defined by snow (not unlike the "too hot to do anything" torpitude that comes every summer). That time when so much effort is put into snow removal and snow navigation that even indoor activities become tainted by the white piles crushing in our world.

Two big storms in the past four days (even daycare was cancelled), on top of the existing snow cover, have served to reduce the navigable areas of our estate to ice encrusted foot paths.

Momma's determined clearing of the deck has been impacted by snow banks that have crested the top,  forcing her to lift every shovel full rather than just push it off the edge.

I think it will take at least 87 days for all of this to melt. 

Being poorly suited to managing a snow shovel, I am able only to provide moral support as momma works her way along my comfort paths.

I'm helping by staying out of the way of the grouchy lady with the shovel.

Our walkies have been severely reduced as well. Poor travel conditions with plenty of ice and chunky yuckies have brought a halt to after dark excursions (our last one taking nearly half an hour to go a single mile as momma lurched along behind yours truly).

This morning, we were able to navigate to one of my favorite destinations, the village green (not quite so green at the moment).

I thought I would try blazing a path through the snow, but I was quickly thwarted and had to rabbit my way about to keep from drowning.

Too deep! Too deep!

Sadly, I returned to the safety of the slushy sidewalks.

Abandon ship!

Our exercise regime has heretofore been supplemented by mad snow zoomies in the back yard. We both enjoy a good game of "snow punch" which involves momma doing her best to "run" through the snow and me working up a good head of steam and body slamming her. The fun is enhanced when momma takes a spill and we can enjoy a bit of wrestling.

But now the snow is no longer fluffy and walking on it results in my legs falling through unexpectedly (and sometimes rather painfully), so zoomies are out of the question.

I'm not designed to act as a snow plow.

So for now, I am content with morning walkies of whatever speed and distance available as well as the occasional game of stuffie keep away with momma and a nightly round of hide the liver treat.

But one does hope that we will see the end of further accumulation soon. Momma's mentals appear affected and she has gone into some sort of creepy hibernation mode. I glanced at the forecast today and wish I hadn't. More snow on Tuesday. Ugh. I hope they don't cancel daycare again.

Dexter done!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Walkie Destination with Curious Rules

Momma has been a bit grouchy of late on our walkies. This is due mainly to the rather haphazard plowing of the sidewalks after last week's snow storm. It makes for difficult navigation (and walking on the street is out of the question due to lots of zoomie traffic).

I'm tired of waiting for momma to catch up.

I suggested this might be the time to try a destination walkie, and I had a specific destination in mind.

Cushing Memorial Park. As you can see, it was originally the site of the Cushing Hospital for war veterans, but now it is a public space that I have wanted to investigate for some time.

Perhaps it is time to stop posing and commence walking.

And we were away. I am happy to report that the paths were groomed and free of clunky chunkies as well as being quite nearly devoid of slip and slide ice patches.

Hmmmm... still waiting for momma to catch up.

There were several spots such as the one pictured with convenient poop bag dispensers and rules of conduct. I was very happy that the "dogs must be leashed" rule was followed by all parties and I met several well behaved four leggers.

However, the sign to the left mystified yours truly.

Of curse one would think "oh, that must mean children on bicycles must wear helmets." Yes, that is what I thought. 

That is, until, I noticed that these signs were also prevalent.

Leaving one to wonder if the dear old Commonwealth of Massachusetts now requires all children under 16 to wear their helmets wherever they go. 

Given that our 3 mile walkie did not lead us to cross paths with any of those minor aged humans, I will have to leave the above as a question to be answered at a later date.

I spy a giant, one eyed doggie! 

Dexter done!

P.S. From Momma - I've been wanting to try out this park for years, but have had so many bad experiences with people letting nutty dogs run around off leash at parks (despite signs forbidding same) that I've been putting my trip off. I am happy to report that all dogs were not only leashed, but the owners were quite considerate - friendly dogs greeted after asking permission and grumpy dogs were kept safely out of range. Sadly, I saw a lot of poop despite bags and bins being readily available throughout the park. I also saw several full bags dumped on the ground (something which never ceases to puzzle me). 

Oh, and if you bigify the last photo, you just might be able to make out the dog approaching us. He was, indeed, a very tall lab type dog with only one eye. Quite friendly (as were most of the dogs we encountered).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dog School Humiliation

I was pretty juiced up when Momma said we were going back to doggie school. I love doggie school. Plenty of noms and fun. 

When I arrived, there were three other doggies there and you know what? They were all playing with giant balls!

Running and yelling and having a grand time. You can bet I was pulling on my string and really wanting to get into the action. Balls! Chasing! Barking! You bet.

So imagine my dismay when I was ushered into a corner and given, not happy giant ball, fun times good stuff, but...

A traffic cone,

a yogurt lid (not even a trace of yogurty goodness),

a yellow square (or maybe it was orange, orange being both a color and a foodable, but I'm not allowed to eat oranges, but I do eat apples which are sometimes red, but also green or yellow or... OK, back to the story),

and an empty jar.

A joke, perhaps? Sadly, no, because while the other doggies were yipping and yelling and chasing, here is what yours truly did...

  1. Touch the yogurty goodness lid with my snooter. No problem with that. I've been doing that since I was a wee pup.
  2. Run around the traffic cone. Old news. I run around stuff all the time. However yesterday momma was waving her arms and saying words and sometimes I got a cookie and sometimes I didn't.
  3. Barfed. Yeah, well, when one is consuming good dog foodables at a rapid pace, stuff happens (but momma let me clean it up myself, so no worries, just as good the second time around).
  4. Then the yellow (or orange) square appeared behind the cone and just when I was getting really speedy with the whole "run around the cone" thing, she starts saying "RIGHT THERE!" when I'm behind the cone. Sheesh. Sometimes when she said that I ran to her because I thought she might be broken and other times I froze in place because it was almost scary voice. When I froze I got a cookie thrown at me which I had to chase down. That part was fun.
  5. Finally, Trainer Dude put an empty jar on the floor. I  investigated it, but I had no idea what to do and momma was doing that creepy quiet stare at me until I figure it out thing. So I did some spins and rolls and sits and looked very labradorable, but no noms.

And that was it. I'm not sure what to make of it. All I know is that we brought the empty jar home along with some paper with words about "homework." Maybe next time it will all make sense.

I went to doggie school and all I got was this stupid jar.

Dexter done!

P.S. From Mango Momma. 
We started a Treibball class, otherwise known as "urban herding." If you don't know what that is, just search on YouTube or watch this short video. There were three other dog / handler pairs in the class. They'd all done the beginner class already, so they were working their dogs with balls and goal posts. 

Before Dexter can start working with balls, there are a few skills he needs to master:

  1. Being sent out to an object (and I need to learn which hand and which command to use depending on the direction of approach I want).
  2. Positioning himself behind an object and holding still.
  3. Pushing with his nose.
The nose push was the hardest for him so we were sent home with a practice object. 

My main objective in signing up for this class was to get Dexter used to working at a distance. I think it will help build his confidence. Right now, he really crowds me when we're training. Plus, we haven't been to school in a while and I've always found dog school is a great way to strengthen the bond between dog and handler. Oh, and Fi and Abby's momma told me to (always listen to your crazy dog lady pals).