Self-Nesting

Socself-nestks, like myself, has a routine every morning.  Right after I get up, he’s waiting patiently to go outside.  He does his business, and in a few minutes (longer if it’s warm out) he’s knocking on the door to come in.  Once he’s in the house, the routine continues to the next step.  He waits patiently, once again, watching everything I do.  He’s waiting to be “bundled”.  I have him trained for the word “Nest”.  He expects a blanket–one of HIS blankets–to be laid out smoothly for him, then he hops in and gets comfortable, and I wrap him up tightly within it, with just his head peeking out of the roll.  From that point he is fully content for hours, or until he forced from his nest by other matters or distractions.  When I saw this animated GIF today, I got quite a kick out of it!  If I could only train Socks to do this, that’s one less chore I’d have to do each morning!  But then again, I enjoy it, so I actually wouldn’t want to stop doing it anyway… Nevermind, Socks.

Photomosaic of Socks

SocksPosterI created a 3-foot posted of Socks for the wall above my desk using 10,000+ photos I had on my PC as the palette.  I created it with Andrea Modaic Professional, then loaded the final image into CorelDraw and printed it as a 3-foot poster on tiled sheets of standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper.  The hardest part was using scissors to trim the proper edges, and align and tape them, but it was fun.  If you’d like to see the actual poster, up close, here’s the actual image, full size.   I gave it the option to NOT re-use any images (but some are burst shots, to they LOOK very similar) and gave it permission to horizontally flip images, but not to rotate them.  And if you’re interested in the rest of the geeky details, here they are:  Socks Mosaic Details

 

Looking back: Socks

Socks 2002While playing the Christmas Memories slideshow this holiday season, a few gems stood out for me.  Photos I remembered fondly, but never noted in any other way, so they just sort of disappeared into the mix.  They were never specifically titled or labeled, so they are difficult to find when searching using keywords.  So when they pop up, I try to remember the year and photo # which I added to the bottom right corner of the screen in the slideshow.  This is one of them.  This is Socks in 2002, just after we got him, with his first collar on.  He’s 12 years old now, and still our lil puppy.  These days he’ll do anything for a little warmth & snuggling, and loves a little “nest” anywhere he can get someone to make one.  Even the word “nest” gets him excited.  Lay out a heavy blanket–or HIS favorite blanket–when you say it and he’ll hop right on top, waiting to be folded into it like a pig in a blanket!  Then he’ll stay there as long as possible to soak up all the heat he can.  Our perpetual puppy.

Christmas Downtown

Kevin, Socks and I walked downtown one day last weekend on the day of the annual tree lighting and the storefront decorations contest.  We went earlier than all the festivities though, just to get a good dog walk in while there weren’t crowds yet.  It was fun, and we took a bunch of photos of all the storefronts.

During our winter walks, Socks can get a little cold, so he’ll sometimes walk on 3 legs, allowing one to rest a little or warm up a bit, before using it again (that’s my theory anyway).  So he was doing this, and a car stops in the middle of the street after we crossed it, and a lady yells out that the salt is hurting my dog’s feet!  She said “you need to clean off his feet!”  When we ignored her and kept walking, she jumps out of the car and walks toward us, angry, and says the same thing again.  When she finally got real close to us, she reaches for Socks and says “give him to me, I’ll do it!”  I picked up Socks right away, and said “No, you’re not touching my dog!”  She said “let me clean off his feet, or YOU clean them off!”  I said “he’s fine, and you’re not touching him!”  She said “If you don’t clean off his feet right now, I’m calling the police!”  I said, “you go ahead and call the police, but you’re not touching my dog.”  We continued walking and Socks was fine.  I knew, if she had touched him, or even tried to, he would have certainly bit her (or me, on accident, in the commotion) so I wasn’t about to let that happen.  She stormed back to her car and said “I’m calling them anyway!”  I heard her say “Sheesh, stupid people!” as well, as she walked back to her car, which was stopped in the middle of the street.Socks Coat

Whether she called them or not, I don’t know.  Sure, maybe she was just concerned about him, how he was walking on 3 feet and we seemed to be ignoring him, I get that.  But to us it was just such a startling encounter, she came off as way to demanding and pretty irate.  And she has no idea what our dog’s habits are, how he walks normally or anything, she just seemed to assume we were abusing him.  We finished our walk and Socks warmed up just fine in the car ride home.  Sandy picked up a neat Winter coat for him a few days later though.  Won’t help his paws from freezing much, but it’s nice and snug like a thunder blanket, and he seems to like it.  It should at least keep him a little warmer on our walks.

 

A Chihuahua’s Life

Socks

Socks, our chihuahua, is a great dog. Most people can’t tell though. It’s been said that Chihuahuas tend to favor one particular person and only that person. Everyone else is to be kept at arm’s (or paw’s) length, and is to be taken cautiously. And since I am the lucky one to have become Socks’ “master”, I get the royal treatment while everyone else–including the rest of our immediate family (Kevin and Sandy) get the cautious approach, get nipped at if they don’t do things “just right”, try to touch me in the slightest, or even hesitate when trying to pet him.

Chihuahuas also seem to be different than the typical description of a dog as in “man’s best friend” and “a dog’s love is unconditional”. At least with Socks it’s different. Socks can be very friendly to family members, cuddle and snuggle nicely, but only when it suits him or when he wants or needs something. If you have ice cream, you’re his best friend. When it’s gone, he’s gone as well. When he’s cold, he’ll snuggle up close to you…but only because your body temperature is a toasty 98.6, and he’s chilly. Once he gets warmed up, he’s outta there. He’s his own dog. Maybe he’s got a little cat in him. When he’s out of water, he’ll let you know by jumping up by you, seeking out your own drink and rudely having a taste of it for himself. Or, on occasion he’ll continuously knock his water dish against the wall until someone notices he’s being weird and figures out he’s out of water. He has his own way of “talking”.

His #1 fear in all the world is thunder and/or fireworks. If it’s very loud and shakes the house, he’s instantly terrified and begins to shiver uncontrollably. There’s no calming him down when this happens. Only the passing of time–about 20 to 30 minutes of no thunder or explosions–will calm him down. During storms, if he still hears the patter of rain on the windowsill he knows it’s still storming out, so the violent shivering continues. I think he needs a sedative. He shivers so violently, I’m afraid one day he’s just going to have a seizure or heart attack. He’s no spring chicken any more–he’s approaching 12 years old, and his hair is turning more and more gray all the time.

During his last checkup, the vet said he has to go on a diet, he’s too fat. So we stopped the snacks and always-full food dish and went to two scheduled “meals” a day and no treats. And I’m walking him every chance I get–usually once a day when the weather permits. I think it was a little rough for him at first–not being able to have food any any time of day, but he’s coming around. Also tough (on all of us) was not being able to give him a treat when he comes in after going out to go to the bathroom. We had him conditioned to go out easily, because he always knew there’d be a treat for him as soon as he came in. After we stopped that, he’d still go outside excitedly, but came in all wound up, staring sadly at us, waiting for a treat, but he didn’t get one. I found a replacement though. I know he loves snuggling up in a toasty blanket, and often fluffs his blanket up like a cat does, to get it just right, then circles and nestles himself into it to stay warm–so when he comes in now I get excited, grab his blanket, and use either “nest!” or “bundle!” as keywords, then lay that across a chair or the couch, he jumps in and lays down, and I proceed to wrap him tighly inside with just his head peeking out. He’ll lay there for hours sometimes, just toasty as can be. It’s also funny to watch him, if something startles him out of his nest before he’s actually ready (or perhaps still cold)–he’ll try to get back into it as snugly as he was before, sometimes by going in through the hole his head was sticking out of, but often really messing it up trying to fix it, or knocking it off the chair or couch completely, then looking at one of us sadly as if asking “can you help a dog out here?!”

His favorite thing in the whole world is his walks. He has a very nice yard to run in, but apparently he’s not satisfied enough or knows that area too well already, and just wants to get out more. He doesn’t want to escape though. We can leave the gate open, whether on accident or on purpose, and he stays in the yard. He has no desire to run away. But if given the chance, and the gate is left open and unattended, like any good dog he will get curious and wander out, so we try not to give him the opportunity. But, per doctor’s orders (both HIS and MINE), more exercise is needed, so I walk him as often as I can. He gets so excited when I grab the leash that he just looses control, jumping as high as he can and squealing with excitement, his tail wagging so furiously it waddles his whole body back and forth (I gave him the nickname “Mr. Waddles” because of this). All I do is hold the leash and stand next to a chair and he’s instantly up there, waiting to be attached. Sometimes he’s so excited he’ll jump into the chair, then back down, then up again, just too excited to stand still. I just wait, and eventually he’s ready to be tethered. He likes to tug a bit on his leash during walks, but using a retractable 15-foot leash helps a lot to control that habit. We try to walk a mile or more each time, and this is perfect for him. On occasion we’ll walk over 2 miles. When we do this, he’s usually completely exhausted the rest of the day, but still doesn’t mind it.

He “sings”, just as most dogs do, when he hears a loud siren from an ambulance or fire truck go by, and Sandy can even make the same pitch that sets him off, so she can make him sing at will very easily. The very first few minutes of the movie “Serpico” is also a perfect trigger that sets him off, singing loudly every time. We now refer to this as “his favorite movie” and I think he actually knows what the word “Serpico” means now… It means “It’s time to sing!”

He had an issue not too long ago with his “anal sacs”, which is gross, and was a new one on me. You’ll find a few more gross details in a previous blog entry, if you’re interested. But that was when he saw the vet and when his diet and our habits took a major turn. He’s getting used to his scheduled two meals a day now, and he REALLY enjoys the days when he gets wet food–this occurs two or three times a week when Sandy mixes in his prescribed diet supplements with canned dog food. He loves it!

I prefer chihuahuas over other dog types because of their smaller size (which also means less waste output!) and because everyone enjoys puppies, and chihuahuas are like “perpetual” puppies–they STAY puppies their entire lives. Socks still gets called a puppy by kids when I walk him. We just have to be a bit more careful with handling and activities than we would have to with a larger dog. Chihuahuas have more fragile limbs and can’t handle to cold like most other dog types. We haven’t “broken” ours yet, though we have thrown him in a snow bank or two, just to watch him hop out in his own unique way, but he’s never been left out in the cold long enough to do any damage. I (we?) did accidentally leave him locked out of the house once overnight, but it wasn’t cold enough out to have any lasting effect, and it certainly taught us (me?) a lesson, so it won’t happen again. He sleeps in our bed now, usually snugly tucked right between Sandy and I. He’s a good old boy, always guarding the house, ready to rip off the heels of any intruder who might are to enter–whether it’s family, friend, or stranger–he’s not picky about who he nibbles on.Sammy

Why am I telling you all this? Well, one of Beth and Tom’s dogs recently had an accident that ended up with them having to put him down. It was devastating to their whole family. This dog was a big part of their family for a long time, and we know how that is. It had to be very very hard indeed to have to say goodbye, just as with a human family member. So I just wanted to get this out there now, just to document it accurately, while everything comes to mind so clearly. I know Socks is getting old himself, but hopefully he’s got several more wonderful years left in him before we have to go through the same sorrow ourselves. All dogs go to heaven. Sammy’s fine.

Socks on a Mailbox

I think my dog is getting senile.  Today, while we were walking, he lifted his leg to pee on someone’s mailbox post and he stood there and pooped.  It was like he totally forgot which one he was doing.  He just pooped as if he was peeing extra long, then lowered his leg and was ready to move on.  No more squatting for him I guess…he’s beyond that.   No more burnouts, kicking up the grass and dirt every time he’s finished…doggie CRS,  I guess.

Socks’ Sacs

Last Sunday night Socks started getting very ill.  He left two large pools of vomit on our new carpet overnight, and I was the lucky one to discover them in the early morning when I got up for work.  Socks looked ok at that time, just lying in a ball in his bed like he always does.  But a little later when I was at work, Sandy called and said “Socks is pretty sick.”  He could barely walk or move at all, and screamed when she tried to lift or move him.  He would take any food or water, not even a treat.  He was clearly in pain, but nothing was visible.  I told Sandy and call the vet and see if we can get him in.

She got an appointment for Monday afternoon.  Sandy and Rick took him to the vet and they ran his bloodwork and checked him out.  No fleas and he looks otherwise healthy, the doc said.  Suspecting it may be impacted anal sacs (all dogs have anal sacs, as I quickly learned), the vet cleaned out Socks’ rear end.  I can imagine this was quite painful, but it turns out this may have been his only problem.  I guess the vet took out quite a bit of matter that Socks probably couldn’t pass on his own.  They gave him some meds and gave Sandy some supplemental medicine to mix with his food for the next several days.  Socks came home feeling much the same as he did when he went in, but the next day he started perking up.  We were pretty worried about him, but today he seems to be back to normal.  Last night we walked around the block (about 0.4 miles) and today we did a full mile walk and he seems to be back to his old (77-dog-years-old) self again.

Teeth

Doggie_DenturesI had some dental work done this week, and I remembered Socks losing a tooth not too long ago, so I looked for the post. Sure enough, I found this.  After re-reading it, I just had to add a photo to accompany it.  I get a kick out of those weird facial-feature animal-swap photos all over the web. That makes his smile look much better than mine is now, that’s for sure!

Scary Halloween Treat Bowl

Halloween Candy BowlSince Kevin is going to pass out candy this Halloween instead of trick-or-treating himself, we couldn’t resist getting a nice treat bowl for him to use–the one Jeff Dunham used in his “Minding The Monsters” Halloween Special last year!  It works great, so we had to give it a shot like Jeff did, with Socks.  It didn’t have quite the impact we expected.  Click on the thumbnail to take a look.