Thursday, June 30, 2005

Whadda mean his "tu-tu" is small?????

Soon after Gumbo came into our lives at 5 months of age, we planned to have him "tutored" (with apologies to Gary Larsen). Not exactly sure when to do this, we assumed we should do this when Gumbo's testicles had descended. When inquiring a bit more about this procedure with The Ouachita Valley Dog Training Club, we learned that a male dogs' testicles descend at birth or shortly thereafter. A quick examination by one of the trainers indicated that Gumbo's testicles had, in fact, not descended. The advice was to get Gumbo "tutored" right away, since this condition, cryptorchidism, could cause cancer later in life. Besides, Kathy and I are firm believers in not bringing anymore puppies into the world. So this was a no-brainer for us.

So the "tutoring" is scheduled, and Gumbo goes in to Rundell Veterinary Clinic. I explained the whole scenario about Gumbo's non-descending testicles to Lois, the receptionist and know-all at Rundell's.

About 2:30 that afternoon, I inquire about Gumbo.

"How's Gumbo?" I ask.

"You know his testicles had descended." quips Lois.

"OK, so how's Gumbo?" I ask once again.

Lois chimes in, "You see, his testicles were very, very, very, very, very small."

"Wonderful, how's Gumbo?" for the third time.

"Oh, he's fine. You know, his 'tu-tu' is also very, very, very, very small." injects Lois.

"Whadda mean, his 'tu-tu' is very, very, very, very small?" I'm starting to get perturbed.

"You know, his 'tu-tu'."

"No, I don't know. What in the hell do you mean, his 'tu-tu'?" Lois probably thinks I'm obtuse.

"You know, " she whispers into the phone, "his penis."

"Gee thanks, Lois. Now I have an inferiority complex about the size of my dog's 'tu-tu'. One thing a man never wants to hear from a woman is that a 'tu-tu' is very, very, very very small, even if it is his dog's."

Well, I start self-esteem counseling next week, and I'm sending Lois the bill.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

And the Alpha dog is?????

In an attempt to be good canine parents, we've been reading.

Those of us who've actually raised children find the many theories and philosophies interesting, alternately practical and improbable, sometimes beautiful in their simplicity, sometimes totally unworkable.

In other words: Some of the folks who write about children and dogs know what they're talking about. The rest of them are full of BS.

We have particularly subscribed to the philosophies of Jan Fennell, and her book, "The Dog Listener," has helped us immensely with border collies who are known to be some of the smartest dogs alive.

The primary help Ms. Fennell has given us is understanding the dog's attempt at communication and the pack theory. Border collies, herders by nature, are definitely pack animals. Until we read "The Dog Listener," we just didn't understand we humans were part of the pack.

Lindsey has firmly established himself as THE ALPHA DOG in our pack hierarchy. Gumbo, Roux and I consistently challenge each other for the No. 2 spot.

I am enjoying letting Lindsey think he's the Alpha dog.....

Body language

Gumbo and Lindsey have been practicing dog agility for a number of months now with the Blue Ribbon Training Academy in West Monroe.

Recently, Terese their trainer forbade Lindsey from talking while he and Gumbo are working. It seems Lindsey's voice would give one command and his body would signal another command... quite confusing for the dog.

It's working. Gumbo is doing much better at practice.

We went to a big agility trial this weekend at the Monroe Civic Center. We learned a lot by watching, and saw people of all ages and all walks of life having fun with their dogs. I think Lindsey gained confidence about eventually competing with Gumbo.

We watched a woman with no arms run barefoot through the obstacle course and have a flawless run with her dog.

Amazing, the communication between dog and owner. And we have the advantage of hand signals.

Monday, June 27, 2005

I am a ball-crazy dog

Gumbo, au naturel.

Border Collie routines

We're kinda new at this border collie stuff. But we're trying.

We've learned they're animals of ritual. Our ritual at our house involves a very set and well established daily routine.

First, there's the border collie standing on Lindsey's bladder. That usually occurs about the time the alarm is set to go off, 5 or 5:30 a.m. Our only problem there is that we haven't taught the border collies how to recognize the weekend, when we can all sleep later.

Lindsey gets up first, puts on his robe and goes out to get the newspaper.

The border collies lead the way, a lightning tag team versus our arthritic, sleep-weary joints, veering off to the right through Dave and Becky's yard and somewhere over to the Shaws' yard.

Lindsey toddles out, picks up the paper, shouts, "Gumbo, Roux, COME!" And the border collies blaze a path back into the house.

They park themselves on the bed, waiting for him to return with our coffee and newspaper.

He must, of course, return with the "Chuckit" toy and a tennis ball.

He tosses at first, I read the front section.

We start splitting up the sections of the newspaper.

He tosses.

I toss.

Gumbo has a sleek, roll-up-on-the-bed's-edge move. He drops the ball, ever so slightly out of our reach.

If we don't react quickly enough, he comes back up, rolling the ball ever closer. And if we are totally engrossed in the morning newspaper, he manages to come plant himself directly over whatever story I'm reading.

Roux, on the other hand, wants the affection and love that comes with completely delivering the ball and pouncing with her lanky, teen-aged puppy legs right up to us. She comes wagging her tail and often plants a kiss right after she's dropped the ball.

Considering where the balls have been -- I'm not sure that's the healthiest thing, but we haven't caught anything yet that we can attribute to dog kisses.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Roux, Roux, Roux-be-o

This is Roux, a tri-colored border collie, on the first day in her new home.

All legs and possessing the energy of a locomotive, she's about 5 months old, based on estimates from our vet, Dr. Jim Rundell.

Gumbo, her older white and black-ticked border collie brother, thought it was great fun to have someone to play with for a few days. After all, Lucy, Gumbo's chocolate lab cousin, usually stays for a day or two.

However, Gumbo figured out that Roux wasn't going away and spent a few days pouting to us and trying to rip Roux's face off when we weren't looking. Eventually, Gumbo figured out that Roux could be a full-time playmate, and they are the best of buds now. Their nickname is Mr. & Mrs. Snarleyface and their mantra is:

"Rip, Rip, Rip

Run, Run, Run

Snarl, Snarl, Snarl

Fun, Fun, Fun"

The new dog

We'd always heard two border collies are better than one. First, these dogs are very smart. Secondly, they have more energy than a nuclear power plant.

We'd been thinking about getting a second dog because our ball-throwing arms are now visibly larger than our non-ball-throwing arms.

My husband, Lindsey, came home from the vet's office one night and told me about a sweet little tri-color collie pup who'd been boarded and abandoned there.

A couple of days later, it was a kinda slow Friday afternoon at the office. I kept thinking about this puppy. So I went to meet her.

When I went in, Lois -- who runs the vet's office -- knew why I was there. Within minutes, this little wiggle-tailed puppy was licking my face and peeing on my lap.

Of course, there was no choice but to take her. I called Lindsey and told him I was on my way home from the vet's.

"What's wrong? What's happened?" he asked with alarm.

"Nothing," I replied. "I'm just trying to drive with this little girl puppy licking me in the face."

Lindsey and Gumbo were sitting on the front porch waiting for us. We've been inseparable since.

Her new name is Roux, which of course, is the base of any gumbo.

Meet Gumbo

This is Gumbo the border collie in his famous "just throw it" pose. My job is to throw the ball. I may have more tennis balls than Pete Sampras and I don't play tennis. Yes, Gumbo has his own web site -- and an email address, He personally answers all emails.

Go to his web site to read how he came to be in our lives -- and you'll understand why our lives now revolve around the spotted dog.

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