Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Monthly Diary for July, 2011

This was a crazy month! First off, Mommy has been shopping around for a lifting harness for me to help me up and down stairs and stuff. She couldn't find the one she wanted so she decided to make me one. She didn't want to have to make the vest part from scratch so I got to go to a place called Bass Pro Shops to try on hunting vests. I was very good in the store trying on the vests so Mommy took me to a part of the store where they have GREAT BIG FISH in a tank! There was also a person in the tank cleaning it. I found it all very interesting. I was disappointed however when the check out people did not have bones. What kind of check out people don't have bones? Anyway, we got home with the vest and Mommy put it on me to figure out how to attach the lifting straps. That is when I realized that she expected me to actually WEAR the dorky vest she had me trying on!
Dorky vest

Well I pouted so much she gave up and decided to return the hunting vest and make a new vest from scratch.

Then we had the Big Storm which I wrote about in a previous post. Then Mommy and I took the Dumbest Vacation EVER, which I also wrote about already. Then Mommy made me the lifting harness and the day she finished it she got an e-mail from someone who sent her a link for a harness they liked. It wasn't the harness Mommy was looking for, but the one above it on the website was!! Mommy called the company and got advice about fitting me for it and ordered it that day.

Mommy felt so bad about the Dumbest Vacation Ever that she took me for a really short REAL vacation to Wisconsin. We went up on a Saturday morning and came home on a Sunday night. Mommy had hoped it would be cooler up there than at home, but it wasn't, but at least we had a nice lake to swim in. When we got there I ran down to the dock and was shocked to discover that the peddle boat was not out in the water! I stood on the dock and stared at the empty spot and whined. Mommy said, "Nobody put the boat in, and it takes two people to drop in, so we can't do the boat this time." Then she opened the boathouse door to get the cushy things I like to lie on on the dock and there was the peddle boat! I ran up to it and looked at it, then looked at Mommy, then looked at it, then back at Mommy, then I whined, then I sighed and lay down by it. Mommy said, "Fine, fine! I'll try to MacGyver it in for you." and then she went and got a garden cart and some rope and managed to get the boat out of the boathouse and into the lake by herself! I knew she could do it! I got four rides in two days so it was well worth it. We tried out the lifting harness Mommy had made for me and it worked well, but Mommy thought the one she had bought would be better, but it hadn't arrived by that weekend. Besides boating I got to swim and look for fish and take a short trail hike that I like to a hidden lake where I get to swim. It was a good short vacation.

A couple days after we got back the new harness arrived. Mommy said this was a very good thing because she could use it to get me down into our basement when the weather got to the 100s during the day. I didn't mind being in the basement, but I really resented that she put the baby gate up at the bottom of the stairs like I was an irresponsible puppy or something! She said she did it because she didn't want me to try to go up the stairs by myself and wind up falling down them while she was gone, but I still think it was demeaning. We've slept on the porch almost every night during July because it was so hot and Mommy spent a few days down in the basement with me cleaning it up because it was the coolest place in the house.

Then last weekend Mommy said we were going to take another dumb vacation, but if I was very good I might get a pet fish! So, Mommy put the empty ice chests into the car and we drove down to Grandma and Grandpa's house. There had been a really big rain storm the night before so we had to take a strange route down there because some of the roads we would normally drive were flooded and closed. The strange route ended up taking us by the pet store where Mommy was going to get me the fish, so I didn't really have to be a good boy, because we stopped there FIRST and got my new fish friend. He is a betta and we named him Pelles. (Pelles is the Welsh name for The Fisher King in the King Arthur stories for those of you not up on your Welsh Arthurian legends) Mommy took me into the pet store and I checked out all the other fish in the tanks while Mommy read the instructions for the "Betta Buffet" Mommy picked out a bowl for the fish and the gravel and then I chose a plastic plant and a plastic dinosaur to put in the bowl. The instructions said you got two plastic toys, but I was only interested in the dinosaur, so Mommy picked a plastic skull. Then Mommy held the cups of betta fish down for me to see and I decided I liked Pelles best. He was unusual looking as all the other fish were blue or red or purple, but he is white with red and blue on him.

The people in the pet store all commented on how I was the first dog they had ever seen who was interested in fish and Mommy told them that she was buying the fish for me. They laughed that she was buying me a pet. Then Mommy, Pelles and I drove down to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandma didn't believe that I was interested in having a fish until Mommy put him up on the counter and then brought me into the house. I went straight to the counter to watch him swim around and Grandma had to admit that I liked my fish! Then Mommy left Pelles on the counter and went out to get an ice chest and when she came back in I was standing with my front feet on the counter and I had the lip of the fish bowl in my mouth and I was trying to lift it up so I could put it down on the ground. Mommy said that was VERY NO behavior and I needed to keep the fish on the counter. I don't see why, after all, he is MY fish. So, anyway, Mommy helped grandma pack up some dishes and sheets and towels and stuff and then she put a whole bunch of boxes in our car and then she went downstairs and filled our ice chest with all the food she had taken down there on the Dumbest Vacation Ever and then Pelles and I got in the car and we drove to Grandma and Grandpa's new house. Pelles went onto the counter in there and I had to sit in an empty back room by myself while Mommy and Grandma and Grandpa brought in three cars full of boxes. Then Mommy filled up her ice chests with all the food that she had left at THAT house and Pelles, Mommy and I headed home. At first Mommy put Pelles' bowl on one of the end tables, but then she decided the spot was too dark and secluded so she brought up the table that my birdies used to live on and put Pelles bowl on that. That night I stole Pelles food and tried to open it, but Mommy caught me and told me THAT was NO too. I didn't know pet ownership came with so many rules. I love watching him swim and I check on him each morning and whenever I come in from my walks.
Pelles on the end table

Finally this month Mommy and I went to visit Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred at their place in Door County, Wisconsin. I was very upset when Mommy took Pelles out of the house and didn't come back with him, but she said he couldn't come on this vacation and Benji's mom was going to babysit him. Even without Pelles I had a great time at Auntie Naomi's house. The night we got there Mommy put on my new lifting harness and we went to something called a "campground" to visit with Auntie Naomi's daughter and her boyfriend and his parents. I'm not sure what a campground is exactly, but it seems that the people build a fire and then sit around it and eat and drink and talk. I napped for most of it. Mommy says I'm not the camping type of dog which is why we've never done it, and I was happy to get back to Auntie Naomi's house and go to bed. The next morning we went to a place called Cave Point County Park that I had been to the first time we went up there to visit. Mommy remembered that I liked it a lot and she wanted me to get to go there again. It was great. We walked a little bit down a trail and then Mommy used my lifting harness to get me down on a rocky slab where I could play in the water and people could admire me. It was very crowded so there were a lot of people there to admire me.
Are there fish out there?

Then we went back up to the trail (Mommy used the lifting harness to help me back up the rocks) and we walked a bit further down the trail to see what the shore looked like from there. I wore my lifting harness as my walking harness so that Mommy could help me if we got to an obstruction that I couldn't cross on my own. There were a bunch of fallen trees on the trail so the humans were slow, but I got around all of them on my own.
Hurry up!

Eventually we got to a bit of rocky beach where there weren't a lot of people and I wanted to go back down to the water so Mommy said okay and helped me down with my harness. I wanted to go down to that section of beach because there was a HUGE pile of dead alewives on it. Alewives are little invasive herrings and they die off in big bunches when the lake gets really hot really fast and then they wash up on the shore. Well, Mommy got as far as saying, "Don't..." when I dove into the pile and started to roll and roll. It was heavenly!
(You can see my lifting harness really well in this shot)

Mommy didn't think it was great though so she went back to the trail and gave Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred her stuff and then we waded into the lake and Mommy tried to rinse as much of the dead fish stink off me as she could. Mostly what she managed to do though was get the dead fish stink on her. After that we went back to the car and we drove to the Pamida with all the windows open for some reason. Mommy bought shampoo and laundry soap and we went back to Auntie Naomi's house, but I wasn't allowed in. Instead Mommy and I got in our car and we drove down to the beach by Auntie Naomi's house and went in the water there. The shore was really mucky and Mommy lost her shoes in the muck and had to get them out and then rinse them off in the lake before putting them back on. I was really rather tired for yet another swim and so I didn't want to go back in, but Mommy said I had to and we waded into some water up to my belly and then Mommy pulled out the bottle of shampoo and the swim turned into a BATH!!! That was very mean. Then Mommy washed my harness and we got back in the car and went back to Auntie Naomi's house where Mommy changed into her pjs and put all her clothes and our towels into the washer. Everyone had lunch on the porch since Mommy was still too smelly to be allowed in the house and after lunch Mommy took a shower. (Mommy had planned to shower first, but Auntie Naomi was hungry so they ate first).
Mean Mommy washed off all my fish stink!

I was very tired that night so I stayed home ALL ALONE for the first time at Auntie Naomi's house while Mommy and Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred went out to eat with the people we visited at the campground. I was a good boy and didn't even throw up or anything.

The next day Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred took us to see the cabin where they used to stay before they moved up there and then we took a Feed the Fish tour. Feed the Fish is a movie that your humans may have seen. It stars Tony Shalhoub, who grew up in the area, and it was filmed all around there. They showed us the places where major scenes took place and then the little green shack that Tony Shalhoub owns and in the movie looks like it is in the woods, but is really by the lake. We got out of the car so we could walk by his property and I made sure to pee on it.
You can't see the green shack but my right hind foot is kind of pointing to it.

Mommy says we are lucky Tony Shalhoub wasn't there or we might have seen this:
After the shack we drove by a barn that in the movie looks like it is right on the lake, but it is actually in the woods! Those movie people are weird.

After the tour we had lunch and then we packed up and headed home. On the way we stopped at a point that is 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole.
If I'm half way to the North Pole, why is it so hot?

Then at one point on the drive Mommy stopped the car and we sat and sat and then the road lifted up right in front of us!
Some people got out of their cars to look

Then the road went back down and we could drive on it again. Mommy says it was a drawbridge and it opened up to let this boat go by:

After that I pretty much slept the whole rest of the way home. Vacations are tiring and this month has been exhausting.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dumbest Vacation Ever!

Yesterday Mommy got all our ice chests out and two ice chests I'd never seen before and took all our food out of the deep freeze and fridge and filled them up. Ice chests mean vacations right? So I thought, "Cool a trip!" Mommy took the chests and put them in the car and I sat behind the car to be sure I got to go on the vacation. Mommy and I got in the car and we drove off and we ended up at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Mommy took one of the chests in and put the food in it into Grandma and Grandpa's deep freeze, then she helped Grandpa change a lightbulb and then we got into the car and drove off again. This time we ended up at a house I'd never been to before. I thought, "Okay! Here is the vacation place!" and I was excited to go into the house, but when I got inside the house was empty except for a folding card table and chairs. I checked every room and looked out the windows and sniffed everything I could sniff while Mommy put the food from the other ice chests into the fridge and freezers in the house. After I'd sniffed everything, I followed Mommy around confused and even went down the stairs (very slowly) behind her even though she said I wasn't supposed to. When she had emptied all the food out of the chests she put them back into the car and got my long leash. She told me this was Grandma and Grandpa's new house and I was the first dog to see it. Then she said Grandma was going to be here soon and we needed to wait outside since the air conditioning wasn't on in the strange new Grandma house. Grandma came and Mommy hooked me up to a tree in the back yard of the house by a nice group of gardens and then she LEFT!! Grandma was working in one of the gardens so I whined a bit and then settled down and waited to see what would happen next. Mommy came back about 15 minutes later and said, "Thanks for letting us put our stuff in your freezers until our power is back on." and we got in the car and drove home! I couldn't believe it when we pulled into our own driveway!! That was the DUMBEST vacation I have ever been on.

Good news wise our power came back on last night so I don't have to play pioneer dog. Mommy wasn't home when it came on and something happened after it did which caused the neighborhood to smell all smoky and scared me too. Mommy isn't sure the power is going to stay on because of the smoke and since it keeps going out again on other blocks, so she says the food is staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Also a neighbor stopped us on our walk this morning to tell us that the death of The Squirrel Tree was featured on our local news last night!! A reporter stood in front of it and showed the big hole where the squirrels used to live. He said that the tree was a popular gathering place for neighbors on holidays, but he didn't mention that it used to be FULL OF SQUIRRELS and that one time 12 SQUIRRELS RAN OUT OF IT ONE AFTER ANOTHER. What kind of reporting is that?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Big Storm!

Remember this winter we had SnOMG? Well we had a big storm yesterday morning that was a summer equivalent. The day started off really nice. It was cool and sunny at 7 a.m. They were saying there was going to big storms later in the day, but Mommy and I figured there would be no problem going for our morning walk. We got to the town proper and Mommy looked west and saw a HUGE BLACK WALL coming towards us fast. She said, "Merlin you need to pick up the pace." I didn't want to and dragged behind her in my "log on a rope" impersonation. We got to the squirrel park and I wanted to go in, but Mommy said, "I owe you a squirrel park later. No park today." I stood mule still because I HAD POOPED which meant I got to go in the squirrel park. Then it started to drizzle. Mommy dragged me towards home and said, "You are going to regret this you know." and I have to admit she was right. We were still a good two blocks from home when the wind got really strong and it started to rain needles SIDEWAYS. It HURT! I sure picked up my pace then. Mommy and I were practically running home, but we were fighting the wind the and being stung by the rain. When we got to our block there was a loud CRACK BOOM!! and we saw a tree a couple houses south of ours crash down into the street! Mommy and I sprinted past all the shaking trees and got to our house and discovered that our mulberry, which is taller than our house, was touching the driveway. It hadn't fallen down, but was just bent so low that its branches were touching the ground. We had to push through the branches to get to the house then we went in the gate and onto the porch. Mommy turned around to pull the porch door closed because it was being blown all around by the wind when CRACK BOOOOM!!!! the elm tree next door split in half! Luckily the half that fell down didn't hit anything but it was scary. We went inside and I got dried off and Mommy changed into dry clothes and then the carbon monoxide detector screamed and our lights went out. I got really scared because I hate the carbon monoxide detector, but Mommy unplugged it then called Benji's mom to make sure none of the elm had hit her house. It hadn't, but she pointed out that the tree across the street had fallen down at the same time! Mommy called work to say she wasn't coming in right now as it looked like a hurricane and then we sat in the window and watched the storm. When the storm was over we went out and helped clear the tree out of the street and pull the branches that were in Benji's yard to the curb. Then Mommy went to work.

When she got home she took me for a walk and I talked to a bunch of people who were out pulling branches to the curb and just staring at places where their trees had been. Then Mommy got in the car and went shopping! She came home with two big bags of ice and she set up an ice chest like we were going on vacation, but then she put it in the basement and the other bag of ice she put in the fridge. Weird. Then we sat on the porch and I wanted the fan and lights on but Mommy lit hurricane lamps instead and told me that that was how the pioneer dogs lived. I think those pioneer dogs were nutty. It was DARK and so quiet you could hear the owls and bats and stuff, plus it was hot and there was no fan. This morning Mommy still wouldn't turn on the fan, but we took a walk around town and Mommy brought her camera so we could share pictures.

Our neighbor Amy gathering up some of the elm tree logs for their wood burning stove

Amy taking a break to pet me


Where did the squirrels go?

Anyone home?

How is that balancing like that?

Nom nom nom

Can you see the workers cutting up the big willow that broke?

Here they are!

Mr. Vulture is looking for casualties

Don't think they are getting out of their home any time soon

I got to go swimming at the end of the walk

Mommy says that it is very likely we are not going to have lights or fans until Saturday!! (Mommy had to drive far away to get electricity to put this blog entry up for me.) I'm not sure I want to be pioneer dog for that long, so if you know the CEO of the electric company, please bite him on the leg and tell him to hurry up with that work!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Monthly Diary forJune, 2011

This was a pretty quiet month for Mommy and me. We decided to take it easy after my fall down the stairs to let everything heal up. It took about three weeks for me to get almost back to my normal self, but I am still slow and a bit limpy and I've been getting tired after about 5 miles so Mommy took me to see the chiropractor. She said my back was fine and that slow and limpy and getting tired faster is now my new norm. It seems that since I don't feel my back feet like I should I'm walking kind of funny. I also don't seem to be able to make my ankles and knees bend quite right anymore so I am compensating by using my hips to lift my feet off the ground. That way I don't foot scrape, but it is why I get tired a lot faster than I used to. My hip muscles just aren't up to the new task I am setting them to. Mommy says she knows how that is since her knees don't work right and she uses her hips to lift her feet off the ground too.

Another reason we haven't done much is it was much hotter than it should have been in June. We had days in the upper 90s early on and then big storms. Then more hot days. Really hot days are hard on Mommy and me because we don't have air conditioning, but on the good side it does mean that I get to spend time swimming in the lake. I took quite a few evening swims with Mommy and sometimes we went for Pup Cups afterwards, but other times we didn't. I don't understand how you can go for an evening swim and not follow it up with a Pup Cup. That's just not right.

One great thing that happened this month was that the four kids who I see on my evening walk sometimes found our house and they came into the backyard and played with me! It was very exciting and I played You Can't Get the Toy from Me, and Kick the Ball Up in the Air So I Can Bounce it with My Nose, and Tug-of-War with Sticks and Toys. Mommy broke up the playtime after about an hour when she noticed I was gasping for breath and limping a lot, but it was great fun while it lasted.

I did take Mommy for an 8 mile morning walk early in the month. We had had one of the big storms and it was a cool Sunday morning so I thought the long walk was in order. Mommy said, "We shouldn't do an 8 mile walk. We should do the 5 mile walk instead." but I got stubborn and refused to move until Mommy gave in. That is the great thing about being a 75 lb dog. If you decided you aren't going to move, you don't move. Mommy can't just pick you up and carry you like I've seen happen with some of the little dogs in town. They whine and complain, but they get no say in the matter. Anyway, I decided it was a cool enough day to take the 8 mile morning walk and insisted on doing it. Mommy gave in. Well, after 5 miles I decided that I had walked enough and, since we were at the forest preserve parking lot, I went to the nearest car and sat down and waited for Mommy to give me a ride home. Mommy said it wasn't her car and she was not going to hotwire it just because I bit off more of a walk than I could chew. I tried doing the stubborn bit, but Mommy wasn't having any of it and she went all stubborn herself and she sat down in the shade of a tree by the lot and said she'd wait. We waited for quite awhile and I finally gave up and we continued our walk home. When we got to the playground part of the walk we found a very sad fallen nest with dead baby birds inside. They must have gotten knocked down in the storm that night. I decided to sit by the nest for awhile and so Mommy joined me on the ground. Then we got up and walked to the creek, and I sat on the bridge for awhile. Then we got to the church parking lot and I tried to get Mommy to hotwire one of the cars parked there. She said no, so we sat on the berm by the lot for awhile. Then we got to the old pear trees and I lay down in the shade and refused to move anymore. Mommy took her sweatshirt off and turned it into a pillow and we napped under the pear trees for about a half hour. I decided I could walk again after that and we got all the way back to town and to where Gunner the lab used to live. Gunner's mommy and daddy were working in their front yard and I lay down under their tree and refused to go again. Mommy considered asking Gunner's mommy and daddy to watch me while she walked the 5 blocks we had left home and got the car, but then she said, no, I wanted this walk I was going to finish it. So we sat and watched Gunner's mommy and daddy work and Mommy talked to them some and they came and pet me a bit and then I decided I would walk the rest of the way home. When I got home I ate my milk bone and fell sound asleep. Mommy went outside to work in the yard and the four kids came by and asked if I could come out and play. Mommy said, "Sorry, not this time, he is too tired." I barked hi, but then went right back to sleep.

Oh! On one of my Saturday walks to the lake I CAUGHT A FISH!! I caught a carp in Lake Michigan once when I was younger, but it was bigger than a cat and it scared me when I saw what I had by the tail so I let it go, but this time I caught a bluegill which fit in my mouth nicely. I love chasing the bluegills and trying to catch them and finally all my work payed off! I pulled it out of the water and proudly showed it to Mommy and then I realized that it was slimy and wiggly and pointy and it grossed me out so I dropped it. It plopped back into the water and swam away before I could catch it again. Catching fish would be a lot more fun if they tasted more like my freeze dried salmon treats and less like a wiggly sharp blob of slime.

I also conned Mommy into buying me cheese fries this month. I pretended like I wanted to take the 8 mile walk again, and when Mommy said no and made me turn around right after the Dog n Suds I acted all sad and then pointed out that I could be cheered up if only she'd buy me some cheese fries. Mommy said, "It is 10 a.m. It is WAY too early for cheese fries." I hung my head and looked so sad, then I turned and looked towards the 8 mile hike and looked sadder and Mommy said, "Fine. I'll buy you some cheese fries, but we are only taking the 5 mile walk." I perked right up then and trotted over to the Dog n Suds and told the girl that I wanted cheese fries. It is never too early in the morning for cheese fries.

Finally, I went to see the town's 4th of July fireworks on Saturday. I love fireworks. I like watching all the bits of light appear and I love the ones that fly around like birds (Mommy calls them chasers) and the best ones are the chasers that make screaming noises while they dart around. When the boring ones that are just little flashes of white light with big booms go off I usually turn and glare at Mommy because she should do something about those duds. We went to the feedstore lot to watch with the feedstore regulars, but the elderly foursome whom we usually sit by weren't there this year which was sad. The other regulars were there though as were a bunch of people we hadn't seen before. Mommy brought my sleeping bag for us and a pillow for her and we stopped and got a Pup Cup before the show. We were all comfy on our sleeping bag when a know-it-all little girl about 10 years old and her friend decided to sit behind us. They yammered the whole time about shoes and other non-fireworks things. One of them complained to her friend about the little RV kids in front of us (the RV family are regulars) who were calling out "Oooh!" and "Aaah!". Mommy says she was complaining because they were making it hard for her to hear herself talk. One of the things one of the girls kept saying was how terrible it was to take a dog to see fireworks because "all dogs are afraid of fireworks". What a little idiot. Mommy turned once after about the fourth time the girl said it and said, "If you are talking about my boy, you are wrong. He loves fireworks." but the snotty little girl kept repeating how all dogs are afraid of fireworks and you should lock dogs in small rooms on the 4th of July so they won't get scared and hurt themselves and stuff every 10 minutes or so. Whenever she would say, "dogs" I would turn and look at her because I knew she was talking about me. Mommy would say to me, "Mind nobody's business but your own." and I'd turn back to the fireworks, but it WAS my business since they WERE talking about me. When the show was over the new people (snotty girls included) left bottles and stuff in the parking lot and Mommy and I picked up what we could carry to the garbage so that the feedstore people wouldn't make their lot off limits in the future. Mommy wishes people would teach their kids to behave as well in public as I do.