Category Archives: roxy

Puppy Vortex

We’re not a big fan of these polar vortexes in this house. The dogs seem to go into instant hibernation when the temperature drops. Dogs who normally sleep flopped out suddenly curl up into the tiniest ball possible. They’re quieter and they ask to go out less, even Millie.

We’re getting by, and the major solution is cuddling. Actually, that’s a good solution for many things. The other day, I ended up with all four dogs in bed with me and I asked Alex to take a picture. He took about a million. You’ll notice that Millie’s pose of watchful attention stays fairly constant in each and every frame.

Keeping warm. Cuddling up.

Keeping warm. Cuddling up.

Happy and warm.

Happy and warm.

Did you count? Are you, like Alex, now saying to yourself “She is not cuddling with all four dogs. There are only three!

Ahem.

The location of Roxy.

The location of Roxy.

On a really cold day, Roxy prefers the cuddliest, snuggliest place to the highest, softest place. She slept in the crook of my legs all night.

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We return to our regularly scheduled programming…

You may remember that I wrote this rather emotional meditation on pairings, relationships, and dogs. In it, I mentioned that Alex, the other dog parent, was going out of town for more than a week, leaving me on quadruple dog duty. Oddly enough, that was pretty much my last post for a while…pretty much until he came back.

Chaos.

Chaos.

It turns out, Alex is not just the other dog parent. He is the enforcer dog parent. I’ve probably gotten even less strict with Alex around. I’m more often found with a dog calmly standing or lying on me than with a dog lying at my feet. It’s just the way of things. With the two of us both involved in daily dog life, it works.

In his absence, we were all a bit off balance.

"I need structure."

“I need structure.”

Like, the second day he was gone, I started the complicated process of assembling Venetian cookies for Christmas. This involves shredding almond paste, whipping egg whites, baking three cake-size sheets of cookies, and then pressing the cookie sheets together for 24 hours between weights. And that’s just the first steps.

Some time during that 24-hour resting period, I went out to run some errands. I left the small dogs out to give them some roaming time, thinking they would mostly sleep. I came home to find the stack of heavy cookbooks I had been using to weigh down the cookies sprawled across the dining room floor. And the cookie stack looked like this:

Like a rat had been nibbling it.

Like a rat had been nibbling it.

Only one dog has a mouth that tiny.

"Without structure, I begin to test the boundaries."

“Without structure, I begin to test the boundaries.”

Luckily, I was able to cut away the offending nibbles, leaving a wide swath for safety, and still end up with quite a few cookies. I thought perhaps that was the end of the chaos. But then that night, I heard a brief yelp and some scuffling. Ten minutes later, I took Hildie out for a walk and realized she was bleeding from her ear, her neck, and the top of her head.

Don’t panic!

She was mostly okay, but I was horrified. I put everyone else in their crates and cleaned her up. At that point, I could tell the bleeding had stopped, but I was concerned about a possible infection or deep puncture wound.

Hildie getting pampered post-injury.

Hildie getting pampered post-injury.

I called Alex to tell him what had happened (“Call me, it’s important. Everything is okay. Just…call me. It’s fine, though.”) We decided I would take Hildie to the vet the next morning just to get her checked out. I brought Lila with us because she was due for a vaccine. There were no more scuffles and the vet gave Hildie the okay, saying that the superficial wound was healing nicely. She still has a tiny bump on her ear. *GUILT!*

Hildie celebrates being given the "all clear" at the vet.

Hildie celebrates being given the “all clear” at the vet.

At that point, I was pretty much finished with being the sole dog parent and I just wanted to go home for Christmas to my mommy and daddy so they could help me. (Un)fortunately, I had an interview in the Atlanta area to prepare for. I strategized how to appear at said interview without dog hair on my clothes and without exuding too much desperation and single-dog-parent-ness.

Interview outfit with dog chaos in background.

Interview outfit with dog chaos in background.

Things went well (more details to come.) And I packed up the pack for the drive to Virginia.

Once we arrived at the house with the fenced in yard, things were manageable again. The drive itself wasn’t even all that bad, although our one doggie pit stop was a bit stressful (“Millie, get back in the car! Lila, get out of the car and pee, it’s not that scary!” *schnauzers barking*).

All the dogs were happy to be in a welcoming place, and the schnauzers acclimated quickly to their new environment. It certainly helped that Hildie discovered her new best friend lived there:

Besties.

Besties.

We had a lovely Christmas and we were all VERY happy to see Alex when he arrived in the early morning on the 23rd.

Welcome back cuddle

Welcome back cuddle

The dogs even helped me with a clean up project in my childhood bedroom. Well, “helped.” Here they are watching me build IKEA furniture:

One, two, three....

“Is napping helping?”

...four!

“What about staring?”

Between the pampering from my Mom and Alex’s return, everyone re-balanced nicely. Roxy even found a new “highest, softest place.”

Princess and the pea.

Princess and the pea.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the pack!

Look closely...monogrammed dog stockings!

Look closely…monogrammed dog stockings!

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The Dog Stays in the Picture

Dogs always think pictures are of them.

Back in 2009, I was looking for a new roommate for my condo. The old roommate met someone, fell in love, and they moved in together!

Vintage Harold and Nikki

Vintage Harold and Nikki

I think it was a good decision.

Unusually cute baby alert!

Unusually cute baby alert!

Anyways, around that time, I needed to put together a flyer to look for a new roommate. I didn’t have any pictures of the place, so I went around trying to take some. And Lila, the lone dog at the time, decided to help. Here she is showing off the built in bookcase:

Hi, Lila!

Hi, Lila!

This bookcase is now curtained off as a “dog nook.” What has my life become?

In this shot, it really looks like Lila just happened to be in the living room chewing her toy when I came by. In reality, she quickly grabbed that toy to affect a nonchalant look just as I went to snap the picture of a previously-empty living room.

Vintage Lila, Vintage Living Room

Vintage Lila, Vintage Living Room

Millie thinks every camera is about her as well. Here are some shots from Pam’s series of “Millie investigating the camera” pics:

Who, me? Stinky?

12MayATL03

Roxy gets in on the action, too. Here are she and Millie “helping” me take a picture of these coolers for a Craigslist post:

IMG_0362

First, it was just Millie…

...but Roxy felt left out.

…but Roxy felt left out.

The only thing dogs are better at than photo-bombing is avoiding the camera when you DO want a certain shot.

Camera Shy

Camera Shy

Still, most of the time, they’re happy to stay in the picture.

You looking at me?

You looking at me?

Why, yes, I am a very handsome dog.

Why, yes, I am a very handsome dog.

It’s nice to know they want to be included.

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Pairs

I’ve been too tired this week to update every day. I’m working several part-time jobs right now and my schedule is sort of erratic. Not ideal for me or for the pack. They’re a bit stir crazy, especially after all the rain we’ve had in the past two weeks. We are headed to Virginia next week to visit my parents for the holidays. I’m looking forward to running around with them in the fenced-in back yard.

Until then, it’s just me and the pack here in Atlanta…well and truly outnumbered. Alex left for L.A. really early this morning to visit some friends. We miss him, but I’m excited that he’ll be flying into D.C. just before Christmas to meet us. I’m also glad he’s getting a fun vacation. When I checked in with him today, he had already found an awesome hole-in-the-wall Indian joint and “the best coffee shop ever.”

He's staying right near here. Aren't you jealous, too?

He’s staying right near here. Aren’t you jealous, too?

As I think I’ve mentioned, Alex and I each mostly take care of our own two dogs, although we help each other out plenty. When I’ve got all four to myself, they end up spending a lot more time out in the house all at once than when they’re going on separate walks or otherwise being cared for somewhat separately. It’s funny, because it makes me notice how much time they do spend in their little pairs, even when they have the option of mingling. Here are Millie and Lila practicing “place” together in the living room:

Millie looking bored, Lila looking alert.

Millie looking bored, Lila looking alert.

And here are Hildie and Roxy cuddling in the middle of my bed:

Okay, alllmost cuddling.

Okay, alllmost cuddling.

Yes, it isn’t the really cuddly kind of cuddle, but I think it matters to each of them that the other one is there.

This time about two years ago, I went to Cambridge, England for a week to do research in an archive. I left Millie and Lila (Hildie and Roxy and Alex didn’t live here then) at home. Or, more accurately, I left them at a doggie day care. They were boarding, of course, and I arranged for them to stay in the same crate together. When I came home, they were very happy to see me, but they had also bonded in a way they hadn’t before. They spent a lot more time actually touching each other and checking out each other’s location. Here they are sleeping on my bed the night I picked them up from boarding:

Buddies.

Buddies.

And for the next few weeks, I’d find them that way often:

Another impromptu cuddle.

Another impromptu cuddle.

They still spend plenty of time near each other, but not quite so close:

Window-gazing together.

Window-gazing together.

They’re a funny pair, but they do go together. Just like these guys:

Tandem nap.

Tandem nap.

And since I try to be sort of psychoanalytic and everything sometimes, I guess it matters that when I was trying to think of something to post about today, tired and a little grumpy and missing Alex, I decided to write about pairs. Of course there are lots of ways for people to be together and care for each other. Alex and Nikki and Stella are a lovely trio. I have many friends and pairs of friends and groups of friends who make my life lovely.

Like these guys! And Pam, who is taking the picture.

Like these guys! And Pam, who is taking the picture.

But today I guess I’m missing Alex.

We  cuddle more than he'd admit. And more than he wants to.

We cuddle more than he’d admit. And more than he wants to.

Facebook, ever intrusive, started asking me the other day when Alex and I first met. I didn’t tell Facebook, because Facebook is nosy and overbearing and I’d quit it. If I could. But I thought about it a bit. I’m lucky, because I knew him for years before we started dating and he was a wonderful friend before he became a boyfriend.

I’m pretty sure that this picture is from the first time we met, or very close to it. Alex had a camera and he snapped this:

Me circa December 2008.

Me circa December 2008.

I didn’t have any more-than-friendly feelings for him then, that I know of. If anything, I probably felt quite shy. But it strikes me that this is a very genuine smile, and a picture that captures me looking happy and feeling pretty, rather than hiding away from the camera.

And if there’s one things having dogs (and I’m learning, babies) know, it’s that the people who can make you smile matter:

A precious Millie smile.

A precious Millie smile.

Alex earns a precious Stella smile.

Alex earns a precious Stella smile.

And here's a vintage Kira and Dad smile.

And here’s a vintage Kira and Dad smile.

So, Alex matters and I miss him, but I’ll see him soon. And in the meantime, if I need someone to talk to about my feelings, there’s always Hildie. Alex is, as I’ve mentioned, her person. Here she is shamelessly hugging his leg:

Hug.

Hug.

So we’ll all cuddle and everything will be fine. But sometimes, it’s nice to be two.

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Dogs is More Like Eight

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like having four dogs.

Mostly, it’s like someone is always watching. They often take it in shifts. One will have the toy or be getting into trouble, so another will occupy itself by staring at you meaningfully.

Watcha doin? Oh, me? Just staring. At you.

Watcha doin? Oh, me? Just staring. At you.

Also staring.

Also staring.

Stares up close.

Stares up close.

Under the hair, she's staring at you.

Under the hair, she’s staring at you.

They do stare in tandem, as well. Often, there’s food involved.

Kitchen "helpers"

Kitchen “helpers”

Or sometimes, they congregate in a coveted location:

Tiny kingdoms.

Tiny kingdoms.

Most frequently, they can be found together at the door, where they all have to wait for the “okay” before they can come in:

IMG_0505 IMG_0506 IMG_0507

You’ll perhaps notice in that last shot which dog gave up waiting before the command was given.

Anyways, having four dogs is mostly like having too many dogs. Four dogs is outnumbered. Four might as well be eight. I will not have four on purpose ever again.

However, four also means there is always someone ready to cuddle. There is usually someone ready to play. And there are enough dogs to get a really nice dog pile going.

We’re gonna keep them.

 

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Extreme Makeover: Schnauzer Edition

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Lila-centric post, yesterday the three smallest dogs went to the groomer. Millie was just in for a de-shed and bath, but Hildie and Roxy desperately needed the whole deal. They haven’t had a full haircut since about six months ago, and they just get shaggier and shaggier. I will never completely understand the appeal of dogs that require haircuts! Although…it is nice that they don’t shed. Adding two dogs to the house was easier that way.

Anyways, I actually remembered to take before and after pictures! With Millie, there isn’t a huge difference. She looks a little smaller and cleaner now, but otherwise basically the same. Still wolf-y. Still cute.

Before…

 

Before

Before

 

And….

*

*

*

*

*

*

After!:

Not much difference.

Not much difference.
Smells better, though.

Roxy looks really different! I think she’s cute with a scruffy, wavy look. But I don’t like that her eyes disappear under the fuzz. She looks so tiny with a haircut. And to be honest, when her hair gets really scruff, she kind of reminds me of a Victorian-era hysteria patient. Which…comes fairly close to capturing Roxy’s mental state, shorn or not.

Before…

Still cute.

Still cute.

And….

*

*

*

*

*

*

After!:

And again, cute! She's already got her little beard all mussed up.

And again, cute! She’s already got her little beard all mussed up.

Hildie is definitely the most pronounced of the group. Her hair is full-on curly rather than wavy like Roxy’s and it becomes dirty looking when it isn’t cut close and you can’t really make out her head, much less her eyes. I find it so much easier to relate to her with this sweet haircut. I can gaze into her sweet brown eyes and scratch her soft ears. She is a definite candidate for more frequent grooming. <3

Before…

Yikes.

Yikes.

And….

*

*

*

*

*

*

After!:

Yoda.

Yoda.

So, that’s the bunch. Lila is the low-maintenance one for once. She has super-short hair. She sheds a bit, but nothing like Millie. She’s safe from the groomer and even from the shower…at least until the next time she lovingly rolls in something stinky.

Lila has two chins. She hides it well.

Before. After.
Always.

(For those in the Atlanta area, we go to Fur Side in Decatur! Love them!)

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Cat Blog

Remember how I promised this blog wasn’t going to be about cats? I don’t really get cats. They’re shifty. They bite and claw people. I know it’s called “kneading” but if one of my dogs started sharpening it’s claws on your leg, you’d probably ask me to make it stop.

I know. I’m biased. I’m also allergic to cats. Maybe this is all a defense because I will never know the love of a warm, purring kitty without it being quickly followed by the drowsy haze of several Benadryl.

Anyways, today I babysat for beautiful baby Stella, the two month old daughter of my best friends, Nikki and Harold. She is a smiley, sweet baby. She hardly ever cries and she already laughs and smiles. Today she learned to roll over!

However, Stella also has perfected a wise-beyond-her-years suspicious face. And today she aimed that face at her sister-cat, Teddy (after Adorno). I caught the moment on camera and it couldn’t have been a more perfect staring contest.

stella teddy 1

stella teddy 2

And just for the sake of truth in advertising, a dog:

Roxy.

Roxy.

 

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Sweater Weather

I’m not always totally on board with the schnauzers. I don’t understand them as easily as I do the big dogs. They’re hard to read under all that shaggy fur and they just have so much to SAY. I think the main thing is that they don’t make eye contact quite as obviously as the big dogs. They talk more with their barks and whines and their body movement. I’m getting used to it, but it’s harder for me to understand the schnauzers than it is for me to understand (or believe I understand) the big dogs.

Shaved schnauzers are easier to read.

Shaved schnauzers are easier to read.

The recent temperature drop here in Atlanta has introduced me to one of the joys of schnauzers. It turns out that their hair doesn’t keep them quite as warm as the fur that Millie and Lila shed everywhere.

Baths also reveal the dog under the hair.

Baths also reveal the dog under the hair.

The solution?

TINY DOG SWEATERS.

Roxy looking foxy.

Roxy looking foxy.

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Bath Day

A few months ago, I discovered that the easiest way to bathe the dogs is to place them in the tub and run the water into a big bowl or basin and dump it over them as needed. Usually I place an old towel on the bottom of the tub to keep them from getting spooked by lack of traction. Lila is the most frequent needer-of-baths in the household, followed by the schnauzers. She likes to roll in stinky things to remember them by. She often manages to collect these things in the crook of her neck. Like the time she rolled in cat poop and managed to carry a pile of it into my living room cradled lovingly between her collar and her second chin. (She isn’t overweight for her size. She just has a floppy bit of skin that makes a second chin.)

Lila has two chins.

Lila has two chins.

Millie gets bathed the least. She is a fairly fastidious little thing for all her wild ways. She has mild allergies which leads her to do a fair amount of shaking and self-grooming. She also sheds just as much whether I bathe her or not. I even took her to the groomer once and paid him to de-shed her professionally. The next day it was as if she started growing twice the amount of hair to make up for it.

Hairball.

Hairball.

Anyways, with my new method, I can grab a dog, bathe it, and have it back in its crate to dry within a few minutes. Taking into account the time they require to be willing to speak to me again, we’re all back to normal in less than an hour.

Presented without further comment, the dogs hiding under the fur:

Lila

Lila

IMG_0502

Lila.

Hildie.

Hildie.

Hildie.

Hildie.

Millie.

Millie.

IMG_0468

Millie.

Roxy

Roxy

IMG_0481

Roxy

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Hildie and Roxy: The Stepdogs

We are a blended dog family.

My boyfriend, Alex, moved in with me earlier this year. Like me, he adopted his first dog, Hildie, and acquired his second right around the time I found Millie. The second dog, Roxy, used to belong to his sister, but she was living with his parents. Neither Roxy nor his parents were thrilled with the situation, so Alex offered to take her in.

So, neither of us really set out to have two dogs. And we definitely didn’t want four.

This is what the house looked like when Alex first moved in his stuff.

This is what the house looked like when Alex first moved in his stuff.

At the same time, part of why we love each other is that neither of us are the type to abandon a dog or see them as disposable. We’re pretty loyal people. Alex even more so than me. It’s one of his many traits that make me appreciate him.

And this is what it looked like with dogs.

And this is what it looked like with dogs.

Except now we have four dogs. At least once a day, I say “four dogs is too many dogs.” Or, sometimes, in desperation: “four dogs isn’t really a lot of dogs…right?” At first, when I made either remark, Alex would get upset. He saw it as me commenting constantly on something we couldn’t change. Really, it’s just my way of joking and dispersing some of my nerves about the odd situation we find ourselves in. Four is a lot, but we manage it. Mostly, we’ve fallen into a routine where we both help each other “parent” but we’re mostly responsible for our own dogs. We call my two “the big dogs” (Lila is 40 pounds, Millie is 27) and his two the “little dogs.” They’re both miniature schnauzers, although Roxy is really a mini-mini.

Roxy

Roxy

Roxy ends up being the one of his two that I spend the most time with. She has sort of integrated herself into our pack. She particularly enjoys occupying the same space as Lila and is pretty much in charge of both the big dogs when given the chance. She is the first out the door and sometimes when  I let her out of her crate, Lila retreats to hers, like “I just cannot with the being dominated right now.”

Hildie and Lila circa 2010 or so. Alex and I were friends before we started dating and, oddly, Hildie and Lila were much closer before they had to live together. Hopefully, this will not be the case for me and Alex. It's working okay so far!

Hildie (R) and Lila (L) circa 2010 or so. Alex and I were friends before we started dating and, oddly, Hildie and Lila were much closer before they had to live together. Hopefully, this will not be the case for me and Alex. It’s working okay so far!

Hildie is more difficult. She is not a part of our pack. She is a one-person-dog, through and through. Her heart belongs to Alex and she loves him with a fierce devotion that at times makes me downright jealous. It doesn’t help that at first, I really associated her with Alex’s ex-girlfriend. She also had curly gray hair and a tendency to speak sharply. But Hildie is her own dog and I do love her. It’s just…she’s the first dog I’ve ever had to work at loving.

Here they are looking lovingly into each others eyes.

Here they are looking lovingly into each others eyes.

One trick with Hildie is that she’s too keyed up most of the time to go to the bathroom. She needs to go, and she’ll get hysterical if she hasn’t been out in a while, but she will get outside and just….nothing happens. She sniffs like an exercise in comic timing, allllllmost finding the right spot and then bounding to the next one with an emotionless about-face that makes her look like a tiny, ineffective soldier. She has an uncanny ability to realize when it’s raining or windy or otherwise inconvenient and to have to go out RIGHT THEN. She has also more than once refused to go to the bathroom but also refused to go back inside to the point that she must be carried. Once, while I was carrying her back inside after a twenty minute attempt to get her to do her business, she pooped on my arm.

Hildie can be a real chore.

Hildie gets caught looking evil.

Hildie gets caught looking evil.

She is incredibly sweet, though, when she wants to be, and she is absolutely violent in her determination to cuddle. She will sit on your lap and threaten you with growls and this kind of frantic almost biting snap in the air if you dare to show a reluctance to sit there and cuddle her for the rest of time.

IMG_0309

“I will cuddle you. I will cuddle you so hard.”

Roxy is also a pretty determined cuddler. As Alex puts it, she likes to be on the “highest, softest place.” Her ability to find this space and occupy it is unmatched. She will fall asleep on the back of the couch atop a folded blanket. She will fall asleep on top of a stack of precariously placed pillows. More than once, I’ve woken up from a dead sleep to find that I rolled into the fetal position, making the highest, softest place my hip. And there Roxy will be, delicately balanced like a sneetch on a truffula tree, curled up in a little ball, fast asleep.

...or Horton hatching the egg. Really any Seuss character in a tree. (CC-licensed photo by Creative+ Timothy K Hamilton on Flickr)

…or Horton hatching the egg. Really any Seuss character in a tree.
(CC-licensed photo by Creative+ Timothy K Hamilton on Flickr)

When the little dogs first moved in, I was a bit overwhelmed trying to find a place to put them. I had been hiding the big dog crates in the spare bedroom, but that room became full of Alex’s stuff, and I had to move them to my own room. I felt like there were dog crates everywhere so that our tiny condo felt cramped and unpleasant. Despite what a Skymall catalogue might suggest, there are very few options for attractive dog-crates-as-furniture. My solution was to fit three of the crates, Tetris-style into the bottom of the closet-turned-built-in-bookcase in the hallway. The three crates fit perfectly with room for circulation as long as Roxy’s small crate was stacked on Hildie’s. Up until that point, Roxy had refused to get inside of her crate without whining pitifully and she was bunking with Hildie most of the time. This saved mine and Alex’s sanity, but threatened Hildie’s. As soon as I stacked Roxy’s crate, though, it became the highest, softest place. She walked over to me, waited for me to open the door, and hopped right in. The solution had been there all along and we were too stupid to see it.

Roxy, in a moment when the top of the couch was the highest, softest place.

Roxy, in a moment when the top of the couch was the highest, softest place.

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