Monday Musings ~ December 31, 2018

Every New Year’s Eve mom gathers us to have ‘the talk’ where she goes over, for the umpteenth time, “rules for poodles.” Elsa here. “Like we’ve heard it all before, mom.” Besides, we know “poodles rule” anyway. This year I decided to beat her to the punch before she starts whining waxing on about her stupid rules.

🦴 Yes, mom, we know it’s called a walk. In Doglish we think that means a ‘sniff’ and a leisurely one at that when the temperatures are extra cold. Chilled  leaves and grass smell much different, trust us.

🦴 Of course we know that minding our leash manners is impawtant for everyone’s safety and that it’s not necessary to dash after every cat or squirrel we encounter. Don’t blame us…explain the rules to the cats and squirrels. We know exactly what to do. Can we help it if they don’t want to ‘chat’ with us?

🦴 Walking exercises.  Sometimes the sidewalk ends and we have to walk out in the street so Sam and I think that’s the pawfect time to extend our leashes in opposite directions so you have to rein us in. It’s called upper arm strengthening exercises. Have you looked in the mirror lately and checked out that flab dripping off your triceps like a wet bag of mice? You’re welcome.

🦴 As for when you’re picking up our poop, we’ve got other things on our minds. And most often that involves walking behind you to get our bearings. you’re on your own. 💩  Besides, I always thought moms had eyes in the back of their heads to keep an eye out on us. Guess I got that wrong.

🦴 Follow the leader to us in Doglish means something more like that cool Fleetwood Mac song…Go Your Own Way. Oh sure, you’re barking ‘heel’ but you need to start thinking of Sam more like Lindsey Buckingham. They’re both weirdos.

🦴 Yes, we pestered you to take us for a walk and jumped around like pogo sticks till we left and then s-l-o-w-l-y meandered around on said walk like we could care less. It’s called a poodle agenda. Sheesh, don’t you ever read the editor meeting memos where we clearly spelled that out?

🦴 In the winter when sunlight on our early walks isn’t in plentiful supply, we are quite sure that shadow we saw IS too a serial killer, therefore barking is imperative for everyone’s safety. The neighbors need to get up and get to work anyway.

🦴 And while we’re on the topic of safety, I know for a fact that all Akitas will trigger insanity on my part. You can call it racial profiling if you like, but  blame the next door Akita, not me. He’s already proved that he would tear down the fence if he could. I know his crazy MO and will act accordingly whenever we encounter others of the same breed, irrespective if they’re nice or not. I gotta let all dogs know not to mess with this Chica. Us Ninjas have a reputation to uphold. Maybe you should think about carrying more treats in your pocket for distraction purposes. Just saying.

🦴 Nose nudging while you’re trying to paint. Hey, we’re just improving your lame artwork. Picasso probably had interns, so chill. If you painted with acrylics instead of those unforgiving watercolors, you could save yourself a lot of aggravation. Then again, if you petted us enough, we wouldn’t need to remind you.

There are probably other areas where we rule, but am sure when you least expect it, we’ll be sure to remind you so that you might eventually ‘get it,’ by pointing out who really rules around the Ranch. That’s called training, woman and you need lots of it.

We wish everyone a Happy New Year. Let us know when we’re gonna pop open the Dog Perignon, Sam and I will get the hors d’oeuvres ready for ringing in 2019 with some serious style.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Doglish 101 ~ May 12, 2016


Sam here again to finish up the dog behavior ‘explainin’. This graphic describes it fairly accurately. But in true Standard Poodle form, here’s my take on each one.

  • Relaxed – head high, ears up ~ If you see me in this pose, you can pretty much figure I’m getting ready to go someplace – whoopee – I so love going places!
  • Alert – eyes wide, mouth closed, ears forward, tail wagging ~ because I’m 99.99% of the time über happy, this is my usual pose and means I’m ready for the next person to come along and pet me.
  • Play bow – tail wagging, mouth open with tongue exposed ~ this pose is for when I think mom is gonna play ‘grab the toes on the dog’ game. It’s also a precursor to my pogo stick jump or when I get ready to pounce on toys. A boy’s gotta sneak up on some of those stuffies-you just never know what they might do.
  • Rocking horse run ~ Mom said this was Jackrabbit loping on me. Wait, what…are there Jackrabbits around? Would someone please tell me where because I love chasing Jackrabbits!
  • Tell-tale tongue – contented and relaxed ~ tongue and lips are loose and flappy. I’m smiling here in this one and it means I’m waiting for you to tell me where the rabbits are!
  • Low, fast-wagging tail ~ My tail almost never stops wagging but I’m told this means some dogs might be anxious. For me, it could be I heard something I’m not sure of and can’t specifically identify it. Then again it could be a rabbit turning on some gravel waiting for me to catch up to him, right?
  • Excited and happy – mid-level, fast and wide-wagging tail ~ Woo-hoo, we’re gonna go looking for rabbits…I just knew it!
  • Stay away – ears flat, lips pulled back ~ this isn’t a pose that I’ve assumed but some of my fur-iends have. I just look blankly at them, wag my tail and try to get them to chillax. Life’s too short to be so crabbish in my poodle world.
  • Digging ~ sometime I feel the need to scratch the carpet in mom’s studio. This is a reminder that she should fluff up the carpet so it’s standing up nice and fuzzy. A boy’s needs some cush under his tush.
  • Butt sniffing ~ well duh…that’s where all the information is located. It’s my way of saying “Hi there, nice to meet ya-now let’s go looking for rabbits.”
  • Upright, forward ears ~ this means I’m focused directly on what’s in front of me. Often it signals I just saw a rabbit and is a clue to mom to hurry up or I’ll start pulling. That or I can’t believe I’m seeing some of my besties in the neighborhood and can’t wait to say hi. Then again, you could be holding a piece of cheese in front of me. You guys all know I love cheese, right?

So…what kind of stuff do you do when you’re out and about? Any of these look familiar to you?

Live, love, bark! <3

Doglish 101- May 5, 2016

Sam here. Mom dropped the ball by not posting further Doglish posts. I got on her this weekend about it while we were shivering in the latest blast of Winter and she said I could do one. Yippee! Here’s a chart I recently saw that explains some of our facial expressions and what they mean to humans.


Here’s what each of them mean to me:

  • Dog looking straight at upright with ears up and tongue out. I think it must be Tongue Tuesday.
  • Eyes open, bright, unblinking. I really, really would like a piece of your cheese.
  • Ears perked up, whites of eyes showing. You mean, I’m not getting a piece of your cheese?
  • Rising bark. Woof, woof…that’s a mighty fine-looking piece of cheese!
  • Howling. I do. not. howl. so clearly this is imaginary on mom’s part aside from being completely undignified for a poodle of my stature. Don’t even begin to accuse me of howling. It’s totally beneath me. Uprights may snore but poodles never howl.
  • Low growling. This is the expression I assume when mom tells me not to bark at the serial killer mail lady. Well…she only said to stop barking, there was nothing said about using an indoor voice! And as soon as the door opens and he mail lady hands us our mail, I’m very happy and relieved to see that it is my friend Corrie, who loves me loads and gives great ear scratches. I don’t think that uniform does her any favors; it seems to camouflage her kind face and that mail bag hides those perfect ear scratching hands.

Next time we’ll I’ll cover dog postures. So what does your pup’s facial expressions communicate with you? Are your pup’s interpretations like mine?

Live, love, bark! <3

Doglish 101

Today’s edition revolves around the concept of motion. In my ongoing effort to learn how to speak and understand “Doglish” I’ve discovered that “Eas-y” apparently means go as fast as you can up or down stairs (rather than take the stairs slowly and safely). 🙂 I know Sam isn’t wild about stairways; we don’t have them at our house and he’s never quite sure how to maneuver up and down without moving at the speed of sound. As hospital volunteers, we must be able to navigate them as a team in the event of an emergency. Every trip to the hospital, I start out by taking at least one flight of stairs to keep Sam on his game. Practice makes perfect, right? With our last trip, there was some serious doubt we could safely handle any more than one flight. Safely being the operative word here. We started out ok, but then he suddenly seemed to realize “Egad, I’m doing something I know nothing about and must freak out and run as fast as I can to get away from these horrible stacked obstacles.” He went from zero to 60 in a nano-second! It was all I could do not to scream my head off like a school girl and just hang on to the leash for dear life. Oh Sam, I really do love you but I’m convinced you’re secretly trying to kill me every opportunity you get.

This week we needed to be re-evaluated for temperament and checked out by the vet who works with our program. Dr. Sarah is a dream. She loves all the dogs, makes time for butt and ear scratches while going through the drill, checking each dog professionally, and quite measured-read…s-l-o-w-l-y. We do this every 6 months, and we’ve been through it enough that I have never worried about it in the past. Sam adapts well and typically just stands there while the laying of hands and banging of utensils go on around him while I answer questions about him for the records. He never flinches and we’re usually in and out in a jiffy. But when we showed up the other evening, a miniature Schnauzer also in the program was there ahead of us. Sweet little Odie is about as cute as a button and was wagging the little stump of a tail nearly clean off when he saw Sam. Sam took one look at him and started doing his jack rabbit run/bounce/jump maneuver like a canine gazelle to investigate just who was this little wind-up toy. Again, it pays to be dead weight some times, because I was sure he would (a) either rip my shoulder out of the socket or (b) pull me down on my bum side. Heel or stop please help me! commands didn’t seem to affect Sam. He saw his little buddy and by golly, he was gonna go say hi…no if’s and’s or but’s about it. While it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, at least I didn’t fall or injure my shoulder, but only barely. But Sam saved the best of his evening antics for Dr. Sarah. Yeah, there’s actually more.

IMG_1993 Sam burst into the office where the evals were held like a bull in a china shop and ran around the table hither and fro investigating everything and in a blink of an eye even tried to hop up onto the table to check out what was that divine odor he could smell. There were some really high value treats that completely captivated him along with the various props that are used to see if the dogs react that he just had to get his big honking nose in the middle of while the rest of us were totally wigging out at his energy level and quickness not to mention the audacity of climbing up there on the table. I was mortified, Dr. Sarah was somewhat surprised (ya think?) and the coordinator was laughing her head off and kept saying, “Dr. Sarah, this dog is almost ten years old, can you believe it?” That numskull! In his feeble brain, apparently “come” at a re-certification evaluation means run around like a crazy nut case and freak everyone out while entertaining your newest BFF, Odie. At least Odie remained cool with it all, little stub of a tail never stopping for a second. 😉

[Full disclosure, the above photo is a reenactment since I wasn’t quick enough to snap a photo at the hospital. I was too busy tripping over my jaw from the shock of seeing that doofus nearly tear the entire room apart with his excitement but fortunately Sam was more than willing to help with ‘staging’ it again. Perhaps ‘help’ in Doglish means he’ll do anything if there are treats involved.] ;)

Oh that dog! Have you mastered Doglish yet? Got any tips that I might use on this bonehead?

Live, love, bark! <3

Doglish 101 ~ July 16, 2015

I'm a what?!

In the complicated world of communication between humans and canines, it’s apparent I pretty much don’t know jack. As in nada, nein, nyeht, zilch and this fact is constantly reminding me of that given the looks I receive whenever I speak to Sam. Anyone who’s been a parent to a pouty hormone laden teenager knows THAT look.

  • Exhibit A: In our household, the command for “let’s step on it and move” is “chop, chop.”  In Sam’s brain, ‘chop, chop’ apparently means “ooh, look, a butterfly, I should check this out more closely” or more frequently it will mean, “I’ll do it in my own sweet time when I feel like it.” More often than not, it’s when I’m in a hurry or trying to balance sacks of groceries while maneuvering the door with a knee and making sure he gets inside so I don’t trip over him, kill myself in the process and spill everything all over the floor. Sam apparently views this time as open season to aggravate the parental unit judging by his slow-mo reaction.
  • Exhibit B: Let me set the stage here. There is a split rail fence around our front yard garden and we’re on a corner lot so there’s lots of real estate. “Stay in the yard” apparently means, “well only if you really, really want to” because no sooner than the command is spoken, I see Sam sauntering down the street on some scent trail or to say hi to a neighbor out walking past. When I holler at him to “get back in your yard” he gives me such a look of disdain I’ve not seen since I first grounded my kids when they were teenagers. After giving me the stink-eye, he ever so casually walks back into the yard with more disdainful looks over the shoulder, not even pretending to feel any kind of remorse.
  • Exhibit C:  “Off” can be a wonderful command (in theory) that can be used to keep pets off furniture, people, and lovely flowering plants. The other day I said “OFF!” to Sam as he gave me that hither may come look over his shoulder whereby he turned his head in the opposite direction and promptly lifted his leg on a peony bush. Argh!!! What part of “OFF” do you not understand dog?!

I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that dogs can be bi-lingual. I’ve witnessed dogs who understand commands in German, English and Spanish. I’ve also come to the conclusion that something clearly gets lost in translation where Sam is concerned. It tends to revolve around what his agenda is, not so much what I want him to do or not do. I’ve joked about Sam being the ‘simple dog’ over the years, but as I reflect on his behavior I think he’s far more stubborn than he is dumb. And because of that, I need to find a translator because currently, Sam isn’t interested in learning English. Anyone know of a dog translater up for the task? I’ll even grant that I may be part of the problem, but as this hound gets older, he becomes more and more challenging. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s really a Standard Poodle or a more likely a substandard poodle. 😉

Live, love, bark! <3

Doglish 101 – June 11, 2015

It has occurred to me that Sam and I speak totally different languages. I understand English for the most part and he understands some other language that I’m not familiar with completely. And so this post is the inaugural edition of “Doglish 101,” a semi-regular column here around the Ranch that’s designed to help us figure out what the devil is going on in those communications with some of the more ‘intransigent’ hounds who shall remain nameless at this point but whose initials are Yosemite Sam.

008Oh sure, most of the time he gets “sit,” “stay,” simple stuff like that. But as we all know from a recent rant post, sometimes the wires seem to get bizarrely crossed. I’ve wondered whether my dog could be hard of hearing? I know I am with certain sounds and it’s not that selective hearing thing-no, it’s probably more like listening to extra loud rock & roll music as a teenager (heck I still like like my tunes loud so in my case, it’s not all that surprising that I’m half deaf). Sam on the other hand, well I think is either (a) just plain stubborn as all get-out (b) developmentally slow or (c) in need to of learning the language spoken by this humanoid.

Take for instance, the command “up.” When I say it, at least in my mind, I mean Sam should jump up on the sofa, or bed, or whatever and land with all 4 feet on said surface. What I don’t mean however is for him to start bouncing up and down like a cotton pickin’ pogo stick and hopping up on desks with all four feet like he recently did at the hospital. That command would be “feet” where during our training sessions, I lifted his front feet up onto a surface, provided loads of praise and lots of treats to get those brain synapses to fire in his little pea brain and associate the command with the physical act. It seemed so simple, its worked many times before, and yet, what he obviously hears is “jump up on this desk and embarrass the ever-lovin dickens out of Mom.”

Then there’s that whole thing about the command “come.” Sure Sam comes on command 99% of the time. That 1%, well that gets a little tricky. It’s like he is either thinking “Pfft, yeah not in this lifetime lady, I’ve got pee-mail to read and smells to check out and I’d rather not” or “La-la-la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you with these paws in my ears.” When it suits him, he’ll come a-running, nearly crashing into me and then he turns into a silly wiggling mutt that seems to defy all possible forms of normal anatomy since it appears he has some sort of special hinge in the center of his back that vacillates back and forth like a Slinky toy. He’ll run up and then lean hard against my leg. Clearly he’s not prepared to be any kind of service dog to help out with balance issues and I have to brace myself to keep from falling over. I know I should be grateful he came, but…it’s not quite like how I pictured it in my mind and obviously a failure to understand Doglish. 😉

So tell me…is it just me not fully understanding the complexity of communication or have I entered the Twilight Zone of ‘Doglish 101?” Does it even matter?

Live, love, bark! <3