Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bogie chillin' in the armchair

My family room set includes an armchair that has gotten no use since my Peanut died.  She was the only one who sat in it unless I had company.  And even then, if the weather permitted, company and I usually sit out on the patio.

So I was pleased when Bogie claimed the chair as his own.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Digital time and the loss of the inexact

I woke up this morning at 4:38 because my dog barked.  4:38. Not around 4:30.

Digital time keeping has made me over-exact in my time awareness.  In the days of analog clocks, exact time was rarely mentioned.

It was a quarter to, a quarter after,  half past, 10 after, 20 till.  And it was 10 after even if the minute hand was actually on the 9 or 11 mark.

I used the term "quarter to 3" when a preteen asked me the time and she gave me a blank look.  2:45, I clarified.  Her confusion cleared.  

I understand that digital is easier to learn, but sometimes the precision bothers me.  I try to go back to the old, more vague ways, without success.  When the clock says 5:03, it feels wrong to say "around 5".

Now, saying "quarter to 10", feels forced when the clock reads 9:45.  It's easier to be vague if you are looking at an analog clock.  Of course, digital clocks outnumber the analog clocks in my house, 2 to 1.

Still, the "exact" time depends on which digital clock I looking at.  I have 7 digital time keepers in my house.

Not one of them displays the same time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shih Tzu meets Great Dane

My sister has an 8 pound Shih-Tzu.  I have an 80 pound Great Dane mix and a 112 pound Great Dane.

We decided the 3 of them should meet.  Neither of mine would intentionally harm her, but they are so very much bigger they could hurt her accidentally. So I was a little worried.

Barb and I had both imagined Meeka would bark her head off at my two as soon as my sister carried her through my front door.  She is very brave and brassy when she is walked around their condo.  But she was terrified.  And overwhelmed as my two tried to see just what the heck my sister was carrying. 

Angel was calmer and less threatening, coming up behind Meeka to sniff at her from under my sister's arm,  Bogie came at her from the front, at Meeka's eye level.  I struggled to keep Bogie at a reasonable distance.  I was more afraid he would knock my sister down than harm Meeka. 

Meeka cowered in Barb’s arms. I took her to hold her, but she wanted her mommy.  I thought we could put her on the stair landing and block the landing with ourselves.  That way my dogs could sniff her through the stair post without actually being able to get close to her.  

Meeka wouldn’t get down.  Then Bogie pulled out of his new collar and tried to rush to see her.  I grabbed him before he could get too close, straddling him.  This is not a particularly safe position as he can lift me off my feet.  I slipped his collar back on and pulled him back away from Barb. 

Instead we put Meeka on the breakfast counter.  She laid flat, eyes wide, flush against my sister, and stared at my dogs.  Bogie put his front paws on the counter – twice.  But when scolded he got down and he didn’t do it a third time.  

We both petted Meeka, and Angel and Bogie, and chatted.  At first, Meeka didn’t even want a treat.  Then she decided maybe it was safe to drop her guard for a moment.  I gave Barb a bag of squishy treats that Angel likes but Bogie doesn’t.  For every treat Meeka got, Angel got one.

Meeka started to roam the counter, away from the safety of Mom, shifting position to watch first one dog, then the other. Angel held her nose above the counter and she and Meeka sniffed each other. 

First she was startled, then fascinated, when Bogie tore out the doggy door to chase the pigeons.  She walked near the edge of the counter to peer at the doggy door.  When he returned unexpectedly, she jumped back to the center of the counter. 

She watched Bogie. But only when he wasn’t looking at her.  He put his nose over the counter and she started toward him.  They came within an inch of sniffing noses.  He huffed a big breath and she backed quickly away.  As he turned his head away, she approached cautiously.  He looked at her and she backed up again. He laid down at my feet with a Humph.  Meeka peered over the edge of the counter at him.  He looked up at her.  She scurried back away from the edge.

Not sure I will ever feel safe with Meeka on the ground.  But it was an interesting meet and greet.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cell phones changed society

Well, duh.  Of course cell phones have changed society. But it is something I have been noticing more and more lately. I drove by a bus stop on the way home from work and the three people waiting were nose down in their cell phones.  Years ago, the scene would have included newspapers and books. Or bored people staring at their shoes.

I often see people walking down the sidewalk while texting. I saw a woman with her fingers curled around the push bar of a stroller while her thumbs were working overtime. I have even seen a woman riding a horse, texting on her phone.

I suspect most of them don't even realize how drastically cell phones have changed our lives. (Yes, I know.  The dreaded "when I was your age.")

Phone receivers used to be attached to the phone.  It was a big deal if you had a cord long enough to reach into another room.  There was no expectation of privacy.  If you wanted a private conversation with a friend, you went to see them.  And there was only one phone.  That everyone in the household shared.  Willingly, or not.

When I used to co-drive a semi-truck, we had to look for a pay phone or hope the delivery site was friendly enough to let us borrow their land line so we could get our next assignment.  And the term land line didn't exist.  There was no other kind.

Vehicle trouble?  You hoped someone would come by that would call for help for you.  Or you left your car and walked to a place to call.  Lost?  You had to stop and ask for directions if you weren't out in the middle of nowhere.  Running late?  There was no way to warn whomever you were meeting.

All of those situations have been improved by the invention of the cell phone. But a big problem with the omnipresent cell phone is the expectation of instant access. Before answering machines and cell phones, if you didn't get an answer, you tried to call again later. If you got a busy signal, you knew you didn't have to wait as long to call back.

Now, if you don't respond to a call, an e-mail or text immediately, people worry or get offended. My mother (who keeps her own cell phone turned off) couldn't reach me on my land line or my cell and assumed something was wrong. I was at the gym and had it turned off. You know, to be polite.

I'm not one of those people espousing the evils of cell phones. I have a smart phone. I check Facebook and email almost every time I hear it ping. Almost.

I don't respond if I am visiting with someone live and in person.  You know, that's where both of you are physically in the same place at the same time.  I dislike when someone texts or reads an e-mail when we are together.  It makes me feel like their virtual world is more important, or I am boring them.

I understand people with kids responding to calls from them.  That's just good sense.  But I have been stuck sitting at a table looking around and trying not to eavesdrop on the conversation my lunch companion is having with someone else.  (Okay, now I just play games on my smart phone. And sigh, heavily and often.)

Some of my friends accept and agree with a ban on cell phones while we are visiting.  Others think it's quaint and old-fashioned.  I don't spend much face time with those people.

Next up.  How the Internet changed my life.  No, not really.  Or maybe not.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why I take Body Combat

As I mentioned in a previous post, I rejoined a gym in Feb, 2011.  The first time I joined was back in 2005.  At that time, I only did machines and free weights.  Classes weren't for me.  Classes were attended by people with cute outfits who knew exactly what they were doing.  In my head, everyone looked like they belonged in a Jane Fonda exercise video. (Google it if you are too young to remember.)

So the first classes I took last year with a friend were a revelation.  People dress in a variety of ways, some chic, some not so chic.  And the attendees vary just as widely in skill levels.  Some were newbies like me.  Some could have been instructors themselves.  Everyone was welcoming and friendly.

I tried a few different classes, but my all time favorite is Les Mills Body Combat.  It's a no-contact, mixed martial arts, cardio class.  I haven't taken any official martial arts classes, but a friend who has says these classes are realistic.

We do jabs, hooks, uppercuts, side kicks, roundhouse kicks, front kicks, and back kicks in various combinations.  Add in some Muay Thai knees and elbows for variety.  Do eight tracks of that, then see if you have the energy to do the crunches and push-ups in track nine.

I've been going to the classes long enough that the instructors and attendees hold me accountable for my absences.  I can miss for a migraine or to have new brakes installed.  I cannot miss just because I didn't feel like going.  And that works for me.  That keeps me going when I would rather not.

On those days I reluctantly drag myself to a class, I almost always feel better afterwards.  I can punch, jab, and kick all my stress away.  Sometimes, there is a face on my virtual opponent.

Besides the stress release, and the cardio benefits, Body Combat makes me feel tough.  It makes me feel like I can face down the stresses of life.

And when I needed to make a closet shelf fit in the garbage bin, I side-kicked that sucker into little pieces.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Researching dog food

For years I have fed my dogs Purina Beneful Original, with the vet's acceptance, if not blessing.

Once I added the Great Dane to my household, I was told that while Beneful was a good dog food, I really needed to be feeding my two large dogs a better quality dog food.

Side note:  Does the dog food really matter when I feed them a bunch of treats throughout the day?  That probably undoes any good that come from the brand of food.

Before I did the deeper research, Blue Buffalo was recommended by my sister and highly regarded on the Internet.  Two of the first 5 ingredients are meat or meat meal.  But it is higher in fat and higher in calories than Beneful or Science Diet.  The dry bites are very small.  My Bogie is very sloppy, and I got tired of cleaning up the fallen pieces. 

Bloat is a leading cause for death in Great Danes.  An article I was given on bloat stated that animal fat in the first 5 ingredients is a bad thing.  

I compared the ingredients and the Guaranteed Analysis for the Large Breed variations from Authority, Beneful (not large breed),  Blue Buffalo, Castor & Pollux , Eukanuba,  Innova, Orijen, Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin Maxi Large Breed, and Science Diet.

My vet recommended Science Diet, but it seemed to me by the ingredients and Guaranteed Analysis to be no better than Beneful.  It was higher in fat than Beneful and like Beneful only one of the first five ingredients was meat meal and one was animal fat.

Royal Canin was another vet recommendation. Chicken meal was the very first ingredient.  But the next 4 were grains.  And it was very high in fat.

Orijen seemed great with two meats and two meat meals in the first five ingredients.  But it was hard to compare because the ingredients vary by region and I couldn't find any guaranteed analysis.  It was also the most expensive brand I researched.

Castor and Pollux, Eukanuba, and Authority each had a meat and a meat meal and no animal fat in the first five ingredients.

I finally decided to try Innova.  It has two meats and a meal in the first 5 ingredients.  And of those brands listing Glucosamine, it had the highest amount at 600mg.  Considering my Angel is supposed to be taking  Glucosamine, that's a good additive. It has about the same calories as the Beneful.  And it's in bigger bites that tend to get cleaned up by the dogs, instead of me.

I haven't seen the vet since I switched, so I don't know what her reaction will be.  I have my research if she wonders why I chose Innova.  And I have only been feeding it for 4 days.  So it remains to be seen whether I made a good choice.

This is my research and my conclusions, for what it's worth.

Updated 8/2/12 -
So it's been a couple weeks on the Innova.  I've noticed the dogs' coats are softer and more silky.  When I was petting Angel last evening, I realized that I wasn't getting a handful of loose hair like I usually do. I also noticed that the couch was still virtually hair free from the last time I vacuumed it.

Very pleased.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I love my car

I am not a car person.  If you saw my car you would know this.  I don't go for shiny and new.  I like my cars quick, dependable - and paid for.

I got my 1999 Mazda Protege in November 1998.  It was my first brand-new car.  When I test drove it, the salesman grabbed the handle over the door.  I like an immediate response when I press the accelerator.  But I don't want a gas hog.  This was a nice compromise.  Quick off the line, but gets 33 MPG in a mix of highway and city streets.

It isn't pretty any longer.  (But it is still cute!)

I dented the front fender many years ago hitting a support post in the parking garage.  I filled in the missing black paint with Sharpie.  The rear bumper is scratched from being push started when the computer chip was malfunctioning.  Rock chips on the front hood required more Sharpie cover-up.

A hail storm in October 2010 did a number on it.  The multiple dents make it easier to pick out from the multitude of little black cars in parking lots.  They add character.  (Isn't that what they tell women with smile lines?)

A friend backed into it last fall and put a teeny, tiny dent in the front fender.  She was distraught.  I said "Have you seen my car?"   She thought I was being nice, but one more dent didn't bother me.  You have to look really closely to see it anyway.

The interior is still in great shape.  One small mended tear in the upholstery where my leg rests against the front edge of the seat.  And the ubiquitous dog hair everywhere.

The flap on the visor mirror fell off.  Seeing myself when the visor was down was distracting, so I super glued the flap.

The exterior is usually dusty, and there is dog drool down the sides of both passenger doors.  But I have a good mechanic and he keeps it running well.

It's quick and gets good gas mileage.

And have I mentioned that it's paid for?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Picking out a new dog

Once you've decided you want one, picking out a new dog can be a daunting task.  First you have to decide what kind of dog you want.  Small, medium, large?  Long-haired, short-haired, wiry?  Male, female, neutered, spayed?  Puppy, adult?  Breeder or rescue?  Purebred or mutt?

Some of those choices were predetermined because of the dog I already have.  Angel is a Great Dane, German Shepherd mix 28 inches high and weighing 76 lbs.  Because she doesn't watch where she walks, small dogs were immediately eliminated.  As were puppies.  Besides, I didn't want to housebreak or teethe another dog.

And because Angel has had knee problems severe enough to require surgery, most dogs under a year old would be too active for her.

Although she and my other female, Peanut, had gotten along, that was mostly because Angel is so submissive.  In general, one female will totally dominate, even terrorize, another.  I didn't want that to happen to my sweet girl.  So that meant choosing a male dog.

My last four dogs have been rescues of one sort or another, so that was decided.   The last choice was breed.  My vet attributed Angel's sweet temper to her Great Dane side, so I was predisposed to getting another Dane mix.  But I didn't look for them exclusively.

I spent a couple weeks looking on-line at various rescue sites.  A sweet-faced, shaggy dog was offered up for adoption, but needed knee surgery.  The rescue would pay for the surgery, but post-surgery recovery is very difficult and I didn't want to deal with it again.  Another was already named Angel.  How confusing would that be? Besides, it was part of a bonded pair.  My Angel would be the outsider.  That would not cure her depression.  Many listings said the rescue was not good with other dogs.

Then Bogie's picture caught my eye.  He was at a Great Dane rescue, but that didn't necessarily mean he was full Dane. They had some mixes.  They knew he got along with other dogs, but not much else about him.  He had been found on the street.

Something about his face intrigued me.  So I drove to Glendale, 50 miles one way, to meet him.  He was sweet and affectionate, a little energetic.  I forgot to ask who decided to call him Bogie, but the name fit him.  I drove back the next day with Angel for a meet and greet.  No sparks, but no fireworks.  We walked them around the block together and they got along fine.

I agreed to take him, but they wouldn't let me have him until the next weekend after he was neutered.  And I found that I missed him.  The week passed slowly until the day I could drive to Glendale one last time to pick him up.

Still, it can be a roll of the dice on the character of any dog you get.  I lucked out that Bogie is very civilized, but not particularly well trained.  As in, he hasn't chewed on anything that doesn't belong to him, doesn't try to steal Angel's food, he's at least partially leash-trained, but doesn't respond to the Sit,Stay, or Come commands. He's bright and will learn.  Especially with Angel to set an example.

He's sweet and goofy.  He drools a lot.  He follows me so closely that I can't turn around without hipping him out of the way.  That may pass.  I'm at least the 4th home he has known in his short life.

He is younger than I expected at 15 months.  Bigger than I realized at 110 pounds.  He didn't seem that much bigger than Angel.  He gets along wonderfully with her.  She is noticeably happier with him around.

And that was the goal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bogie and Angel

Exhausted from a trip to the vet, they only looked up because I moved.


Since Peanut died, Angel has been lethargic.  I had hoped she would recover, but it became apparent that she needed a companion.  Angel is part Great Dane and very sweet tempered, so I checked the rescue sites for Danes. And picked Bogie.

He had been found on the street so the rescue agency had no idea of age or temperament.  The vet says he's around 15 months old, he weighs 109 pounds, and is exceedingly sweet-tempered. 

If I can ever get him to stand still long enough I'll post a picture of the two of them together.