Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Shatterproof" ?

I think my definition of "shatterproof" differs from the manufacturer of the plastic canister I store dog treats in.

Granted, it cost me under $10.  But one of the reasons I bought it was the prominent "Shatterproof" sticker on the side.

Mind you, it said "Shatterproof", not "Shatter resistant".

So I was unconcerned when the empty canister slipped from my hands and hit the tile floor.

Only now it looks like this:

So basically, this canister is shatterproof - until you drop it.  

So is china.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

DIY window sills

I moved to Arizona from the Midwest.  There all the windows were framed in wood.  Here, at least all the houses I've seen, the windows are framed in drywall.

Drywall is okay for walls.  But as a window sill, it has its limitations.  Mainly, it isn't impervious to water.  Between leaving the windows open in the rain and dog drool, 4 of my drywall sills have been pretty much destroyed.

The final straw was when a stained glass portrait fell onto the sill, denting the underlying metal and destroying the drywall.  That would have been a hassle to repair.  (The stained glass survived unscathed.)

So I decided to install bottom sills of wood.  They would be easy to refinish if they were water damaged, but with a polyurethane coating, not likely to need it.  I didn't want to do the entire window frame in wood as that would have required my blinds to be recut.

In hind sight, I wish I had thought to take pictures of the step by step process.  But before and after photos will have to do.

The lucky thing for me was the depth of the sills were exactly the width of a board.  I went with 1" boards, as it was the exact depth from the drywall to the edge of the sliding window frame.  Three sills needed 1 x 4 boards and one needed a 1 x 6 board.

(In case you don't know, a 1 x 4 is neither 1" deep nor 4" wide.  Closer to 7/8" and 3 1/2".  Don't ask me why. It just is.)

Having the boards the exact width I needed meant I didn't have to consider buying a table saw to cut the boards to width.  I also picked up a nice simple triangle-shaped molding to attach to the front that made a routered edge unnecessary.

All I had to do was cut the board and molding to the correct length.  I pre-drilled the nail holes to fasten the boards to the bottom sill and the molding to the boards.  That prevented the wood from splitting.

A little putty to fill in the nail holes.  A couple coats of polyurethane and stain combined and the sills look much, much better.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hazards of leaving the patio door open

When I work from home, my desk is in the loft and behind me is a bedroom containing a sewing machine and a love seat that the dogs lay on to look out the window. 

I heard a scrabbling at the bedroom window.  

Since I could see Bogie laying down, I assumed Angel was clawing at the glass.  She used to do that when she saw a dog walking on the sidewalk in front of the house.  But she hasn't done it in a while. 

I got up and entered the bedroom, intending to scold Angel.  She wasn't there. Instead, there was a small red house finch fluttering at the window. 

I carefully crossed the room to get to the window.  I didn't want to startle it.  I've chased a sparrow through the house for an hour in the past.  (Yes, I know.  I never learn.)

I started to slide the glass window open and planned to remove the screen to shoo the finch outside.  But when I moved the window, the finch didn't try to escape. Instead, it just moved a little closer to the corner of the window sill. 

I wondered, Maybe I could rescue it without removing the screen.  I moved carefully toward it, with my hands cupped and scooped it up from above.

It didn't even try to escape.  

I could feel the tiny heart beating double-time in its chest, but it didn't struggle. I worried that I had its wings in an awkward position, but didn't want to risk re-positioning it.  

The tiny little finch made no noise. That meant we could walk past Bogie without drawing his attention to my hands.  As always, Bogie followed me out to the patio, but never realized I was carrying a living creature. 

I went to set the finch on the patio table, figuring it would need a moment to gather its wits.  But as soon as I opened my hands it flew away.  

Probably to tell its little birdie buddies how he braved the giant’s house and survived. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Self- acceptance, an on-going process

I know people who are completely comfortable in their own skins and could care less what other people think about them.

I wish I was one of those.

I'm okay with my personality.  While I am stubborn and impatient, I am smart, kind, compassionate, and reasonably talented.  I would like a little more ambition, but I'm okay without it.

It's my physical appearance that I find lacking.  I'm not ugly.  I'm plain.  In this culture where youth and beauty are defined by the media, I don't measure up.

Mind you, my shortcomings don't bother me enough to do anything about it.  I don't wear makeup.  It makes me itch.  I don't dress fashionably.  I dress for comfort.  I wear jeans, sneakers, and camp shirts to work because I prefer my skills take center stage over my appearance.

By societal standards, I need to lose weight, but it doesn't bother me enough to give up cookies or chips and salsa to be skinnier.   Still, when I see other people at the gym that are tanned, free of freckles and age spots, and not pudgy, I feel inferior.

Sometimes, briefly, I reach the desired level of acceptance of my appearance.  I realize that people like me for who I am and how I treat them, not for what I look like.

This most recent dismay was prompted by seeing myself in a video testimonial I did for my gym.  It was taken before a class, so I didn't make any effort to spruce up.  Also, I talk with my hands, but my hands weren't shown,. Apparently my head twitches when I move my hands, so it looked like I was having a seizure. .

Looking at the video, I decided that people who tell me I look younger than my age are just being gracious.  I thought I looked every year of my age.

Should it matter to me?  No.
Does it matter?  Unfortunately.
Am I still a good person? Of course.

Is self-acceptance genetic or is it something that can be learned?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Angel, the follower

Angel is a submissive dog.  Peanut was dominant and Angel was fine with that.  Bogie is now dominant, and unless he is getting too rambunctious, Angel is fine with that, too.

What I hadn't realized was how much her behavior is dictated by her pack mate.

Peanut was afraid of the vacuum cleaner, she ran barking to the front door when the doorbell rang, was nervous at the vet, and wouldn't cooperate enough to have her teeth brushed.

Angel had these same characteristics when I adopted her.  I thought they were part of her personality.

So I was amazed after Peanut died that when the doorbell rang, Angel said - nothing.  She went to the door with me, but didn't bark.  Her barking was in support of Peanut's decision to bark.

Bogie also doesn't bark when the doorbell rings, so I am no longer bombarded by a cacophony of noise when the doorbell rings.  And any solicitors that ignore the No Soliciting sign are shocked when I open the door and two large, silent dogs stare at them through the screen door.

Bogie is so unafraid of the vacuum that he follows me from room to room, generally standing on the electrical cord.  This weekend, I was surprised to see Angel standing near me while I vacuumed, instead of hiding outside.  She even let me reach over and pet her without turning off the vacuum.  Progress!

Angel's behavior at the vet was the most revealing instance of her follower mentality.  Bogie is too laid back to care that he is at the vet, despite the multiple visits we've made since I got him.  Since he's relaxed, so is Angel.  So much so, that the vet and technician commented on how friendly and calm she was.  Angel greeted them, wanted petted, and begged  for treats.  In the past, she has hidden behind me.

Angel is devoted to Bogie, despite her being older and having the longer tenure.  When he goes outside, she follows.  If I give them a treat and he spits his out, she does the same.  She won't fetch, but she brings toys to me to throw - for him to chase.

It appears that, for good or ill, dogs are also affected by their peer group.  I'm just glad Angel's peer group is a laid-back Great Dane who loves everyone.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bogie, learning more every day

Surprisingly, I have had Bogie for less than 4 months.  It seems like he has been a part of my family for much longer.  At 15 months old when I got him, he was civilized but not particularly trained.

He doesn't take food, even if I set it on the counter and briefly leave the room. He loves to be combed or sponged down.  He doesn't mind having his teeth brushed.  These things I didn't have to teach him.  Someone took care of him before he ended up on the street.

But, based on the vet's determination that he had never been taught the command Sit, I figured he had very little, if any, formal training.

So it amazes me how much he has already learned.

He's learned Stop, both in the sense of don't go any further when we are walking, and don't do whatever it is that you are currently doing.

He will Stay, but only for a moment.  He understands Sit, Shake, Cross (the street), That's enough (similar to Stop, but generally used for barking), and Come Here.

He'll Move if I tell him to, but he generally moves in the same direction I am trying to go.  He's getting better at Heel.  He sort of understands Don't Pull, when he is tugging on the leash.  He knows Get In the Back means No, you may not ride in the front seat of the car.

He knows You Missed Some means he didn't clean his food bowl.  Out! means don't you dare come inside with a pigeon in your mouth.

He knows not to run out the front door.  But like a small boy who is told not to touch his sister, and instead kicks her, he assumes gates don't count.  (Thus the escape last week)

He astonishes me every week with his intelligence and willingness to learn.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can Bogie be trusted off-leash?

The short answer - no.  The long answer - No, nope, no way, negatory, absolutely not.

I had completely forgotten that Wolff Mechanical was coming to service the heat pump. The service man, Ralph, arrived promptly at 8.  Fortunately, he’s a dog lover because Bogie gave him the full-on love treatment, which includes leaning on and trying to put his paws on Ralph’s shoulders.

Bogie is getting better behaved, until there are new people around.  Bogie adores people.  Which means it isn't likely he was abused in his past life. 

I went around the outside to open the RV gate for Ralph.  I wasn't watching Bogie closely enough and he took off.  I wasn't too concerned, irritated, but not concerned when he went north to the bend.  After only a short while, he came back to me and I thought, well, now we’re making progress.  But as I reached for him he took off down the street to the west.  Then I got worried. 

didn't run after him.  That makes dogs think you're playing a game, but I walked fast and yelled.  At one point, I thought he was going to come back.  

But he high-tailed down the street, turning into a couple yards to check them out.  I had hoped he would get to the end of the sidewalk, where we normally turn back and return.  But instead he turned left into the cul-de-sac.  I expected him to walk around the curve and come back.  When he didn't I started to run.

I met a small group coming back from walking their dog in the basin.  But they hadn't seen him.  By now I was really worried.  That meant he headed to Ellsworth Road.  Traffic.  People.  Danger.

I hurried out to Ellsworth, looked down the road and saw a person walking two dogs, one black, one white. On the *other* side of Ellsworth.  On the other side of *busy* Ellsworth.  Across four lanes of traffic. 

I hoped the large, white dog was Bogie. I hurried to meet them.  The woman was walking her Rottweiler on a leash and Bogie was walking with them.  When he saw me, he hurried to see me, but  tried to pull away when I grabbed his collar. 

The woman was nice, said she had been worried about what to do with him if she didn't see anyone.  I explained I hadn't had him long and he wasn't complete trained.  I didn't want her to think I was a bad pet parent.   

I got a good grip on his collar and muscled him into a semblance of a Heel all the way back to the house.  I also kept telling him over and over how disappointed and scared I was.  He just looked at me, tongue hanging out, clearly having enjoyed his impromptu romp. 

Back at the house, Ralph and Angel were just doing their things. I made a point of ignoring Bogie since shunning has been a good punishment in the past.  It wasn't as effective when Ralph was there to pay attention to him. 

After Ralph left, Bogie was so tired he just laid down to nap. I don't think he even knows he's being ignored.  


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dogging my footsteps

After doing my household chores this morning, I now have first-hand experience with the phrase "dogging my footsteps."

I vacuumed the downstairs and Bogie followed behind me every step I took, frequently standing on the electrical cord.

I mopped the floor to remove the muddy footprints and dirt clods left behind by Angel when she dug up a cherished rawhide.  Bogie watched every swipe of the mop, from in front of me.  I kept asking him to move out of the way.  He followed me to the sink every time I rinsed the mop.

I sanded a new window sill on the family room window.  This involved moving the end table and easy chair from in front of the windows.  Not once, but twice, Bogie followed me behind the furniture, getting tangled up in the cords and knocking the stereo speaker off the table.  (To be honest, I knocked it off once myself, whereupon I left it on the floor until I was done.)

Upstairs to mop the bathroom floor.  I rinsed the mop in the bathtub and he stuck his face in the tub to watch.  I tried to open the closet door and he was standing in front of it.  But he moved when prompted.

Every step I took, he was right beside me.  Which is sweet.

And a little annoying.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bogie is starting to get it - I think

I am so proud. (misty eyes, hand over heart) This morning, during our walk, Bogie was pulling at the end of the leash, looking at something I couldn't see.  

I said, calmly, "No pulling."

He came back to me, sat down, and cried, as we watched a cat cross the street half a block away.  

I didn't even have him on a tight leash.

On the other hand, Tuesday he was up to mischief. 

I came home from work and first thing I noticed was the cloth napkin laying on the floor in front of the doggy door.  He had taken it off the counter.  

Looked left into the kitchen and saw one of the stainless steel dog food bowls laying in the middle of the kitchen, face down.  Bogie had taken it out of the sink.  I have no idea why.  It was obviously empty.  And his dry food bowl was full. 

As usual, I went outside to put food in the bird feeder and top off everyone’s water.  As I walked across the grass, I saw something black.  I picked it up and realized it was Bogie’s collar.  

I hadn't even noticed he wasn't wearing it.  

Now, I don’t make Angel wear a collar, but I haven’t had to pull her down from the counter or hold her back to keep her from jumping up on a guest.  And that is kind of hard to do without a “handle”.  Bogie willingly let me put the collar back around his neck.  It did slip over his head without being unfastened.

Upstairs to change my clothes. 

I keep the paper shredder and its waste can between the desk and a side chair, in front of the waste can I use for office trash.  

Both were tipped over.  The shredded paper had mostly stayed in the container, but at least a page full had fallen out and needed to be picked up. 

The office can was missing its liner.  That was laying in the middle of the loft with a hole in it.  Fortunately, I had recently emptied the trash so there wasn't much in it.  But I found an empty air can clear across the room.  Did he shake the bag?  I can see him doing it in my mind. 

Then I noticed the floor fan laying face down.  Of course it was still running.  I’m sure it was collateral damage from a game of chase or wrestling.  The fan now clanks if it isn't set up just right or if  I try to move it without shutting it off.

Lastly, my shorts were taken off the dresser and laid on the closet floor.  Not damaged, just moved.

These are the hazards of having a bored “teenage” Great Dane. 

But it makes for great stories, and he makes me laugh.