Roo Presents Mouse Detection and Hunting Techniques for the Advanced Afficionado of the Outdoors

Please, please... do not let your dog attempt any of these maneuvers at home. If Roo is to be believed, they are liable to result in a deluge of mouses who want to play with a dog.

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Roo still deals with her issues every day

The Kahoo has never stopped worrying about doors. She acts if she had doors slammed on her when she was a puppy, which would make sense for a dog who had been locked up. She probably tried to escape any chance she got, and the kind soul who locked her up and neglected so completely might have crimped her in a door. It was clear on Roo's first day with me in Los Angeles, when she was such a fearful wreck that she was left to be put down in a high-kill shelter, when she recoiled in fear the minute I put a hand on the door, as I described in Notes. As far as Roo has come, she still does not trust doors (or flashlights, which still make her hide, though not in panic). Here she is trying to nose the bathroom door open today.

By the way, no more news on the depressing encounter with the coon hound, other than that the rescue said they were going to contact the owner. I don't feel like it's my place to ask them anything further. They know what they're doing, and it's up to them. The whole thing has darkened a few days. And now, we're expecting thunderstorms to hit that will last late into the night. This is going to be a tough day for Roo.

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Today's Stray - and why my blood is still boiling

Roo and I were on a track in the woods when I saw a dog standing stock still way up ahead watching us. When we got closer to this handsome young coon hound, he was curious about Roo, but, though he wasn’t exactly skittish, he stepped off the trail to gave me a wide berth. Now that he had gotten past us, he looked like he wanted to keep going, but having just come that way I knew his person wasn’t there. He gravitated back in our direction when I called him, though he wouldn’t come, and after a couple of minutes he warmed up enough to get close and let me pat him on the back and put a leash on him. His fur was soft to the touch and once he made the decision to trust me, his mood changed and he was glad to make a friend. It might have been better if I never got ahold of him.

Thinking that he must just have gotten ahead of someone on the trail, it seemed like the best thing would be to stay put. He didn't have tags or a phone number, just a blaze orange harness. After about 10 minutes, another dog came down the trail, followed by a flustered young woman in running gear and an earful of piercings.

"Thank you so much," she said. "I've gone two miles on this trail looking for that dog." It was only in the 70s, but humidity was at 99 percent, and I was already sticky after five minutes. She was dripping.

I unclipped the leash, assuming he would go to her (some of you might cock an eyebrow at the injudiciousness of that, and you would be right). I told her that I knew how she felt. “This one," meaning you-know-who, “likes to go a little AWOL out here and it gives me palpitations every time."

“My boyfriend would kill me if I lost his dog. Thank you. You have no idea," she said. Then she called the dog. "Come here," and she used his name [edited to remove dog's name]/ He went in the opposite direction, the one he was heading in when I found him. She kept trying to call him, but he ignored her.

"Could you call him for me? He just got in trouble and I guess he's avoiding me."

That should have been the red flag, but I didn't think anything of it. And this is where my betrayal of that dog began, and one of the reasons why my blood is still boiling hours later.

As soon as I called him, he trotted right over to me and did that thing friendly dogs do where they lean their flank against your leg and wag and smile at you. I patted him on his back and rubbed his side and he put his ears back and his head down in the way of all dogs. I really liked that guy. I held his harness for the woman and she came over and clipped his leash on.

"Coon hound," she said. “They like to wander.”

“Maybe you ought to put a phone number on him.”

She said, “He doesn’t need it. He’s chipped. We rescued him.”

“Well, a person can’t read a chip, but they could call you.”

You know how people don’t want to hear it, and she didn’t, and she took the dog, said thanks again, and they headed down the trail. 

Roo and I went in the opposite direction, but after a few minutes, I could see that Roo was hot and bored, and water was back the other way, so we turned around.

After a minute, we started to come up on them. The coon hound was on the ground. From a distance, it looked like she gave the leash a hard yank. A mean yank.

He didn’t want to walk with her, and every time she turned to him, it looked like she was yelling at him, and he rolled over on his side in submission.

Then he got up and the woman gave him a hard kick in the ribs. She turned around to see if anyone had seen her abuse the dog, and there I was. 

I yelled, “Hey!” but somehow, my voice is wispy lately. It seems to have started to lose the strength to carry. She might have heard me.

My arm is still in bad shape. I can not run. I’m still in a sling. That’s just how it is. All I could do was pick up my pace as much as possible.

She tried to get him to move, but he was back on the ground, and she would have had to unclip his leash and risk upsetting her boyfriend if he took another powder, so I was able to catch up.

“That’s why that dog’s running away from you, I saw you kick him!” I was disgusted.

“I didn’t kick him,” she said.

“How the hell can you treat a dog like that? He’s a good dog - “

“He is not a good dog,” she said, “you don’t know that dog.”

“The hell he isn’t - no wonder that dog wants to get away from you.”

She turned away. The dog looked at me. He didn’t seem to blame me, but he was looking pretty dejected. As if the views he had been developing about humans were confirmed anew every time he gave another one a chance.

“You ought to give that dog back to the rescue if you’re just going to treat him so badly,” I said.

She turned back to me and said, “He’s not mine to give.”

I don’t know what else I could have done. I was angry, but powerless. A temporary cripple without so much as a voice. The only thing I could think of to say to her was, “You haven’t heard the last of this.” 

But - what else was I supposed to do? I couldn’t try to grab the dog, get in a scuffle. In the United States of America, you can bring all sorts of hell down on a dog if you feel like it, and no one will ever do anything about it. According to the law, a dog is just property, and it seems deep in the blood of a disproportionate number of Americans - more so here in the South than anywhere else I’ve been in America, and I have traveled 47 of the lower 48 in detail - to be mean as hell to animals. There is more junkyarding of dogs here than anywhere else in the country. Sorry, but that’s the way I see it here, and the main reason that the second we have two nickels to rub together we’re going to get the hell away from this godforsaken place. There are plenty of people who take great care of their dogs around here, but the quantity of abused and neglected dogs is staggering. This place recently passed an ordnance codifying the legality of chaining dogs. What more do you need to know?

I didn’t want to turn and see anything else, but I did. The woman was waiting for the hound to get up. 

“You have not heard the last of this,” I repeated. 

So, I’ll send this blog post to the rescue. They are known to be devoted, with the best reputation in the area. I meet people with their dogs all the time, and every one of the people has been loving and gentle with their dogs, glad to be with them and filled with praise and gratitude for them. I doubt they’ll be able to do anything about this freak, but at least they’ll know never to let the bonehead who got that beautiful, sweet coon hound to ever be allowed anywhere near another one of their dogs again. I'll probably get shot for it, cause that's how we roll, isn't it?

I feel like I betrayed him. Just more proof to him that you can’t trust any of ‘em. A dog decides to trust you and what does he get - screwed. 

This thing has made me feel like hell.


Fleas and snakes and ticks, Oh, my.

Spring is here. I can tell because I woke up with a deer tick lodged in the back of my neck. Temperatures here have climbed into the 80s lately, so I knew it was getting to be about that time. This engorged tick was the wake-up call. It’s not about that time. It’s that time.

Last year Roo was on Advantix II. Those of you who’ve used it know that no matter how carefully you apply it, after ten minutes your dog will look like one of those pelicans getting dunked in a bucket of turpentine on the news after an oil spill. I hated to grease her up with it again, especially because her skin and coat have been so healthy lately. 

I’ve been crediting fish oil with that, but as I thought of that big oil slick running down her back I began to wonder. Maybe the fish oil was only a part of it. Could the topical flea meds be irritating her? After all, the improvement happened when the flea meds stopped and the fish oil began. 

So, Roo had to endure a second trip to the vet in a week. She went a few days ago for rattlesnake vaccine, but that was at a different vet, since not many of them stock it around here. 

By the way, rattlesnake vaccine might or might not help with either of the local snake species likely to bite a dog here. The manufacturer brags that it should help, but they have no proof. No one seemed to have any reasons not to give it to her, so, on the off chance that it offers some protection, Roo got poked.

The vet we saw today was the same one who put Roo on fish oil. She told me that for fleas and ticks, she gives her own dogs this new stuff, Bravecto. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of all those sound-alike trade names. Altima. Elantra. Cymbalta. Picano. Forenzo. Now, Bravecto. 

But, she said it was possible that Roo’s skin could have been irritated by the topical F&T med. That it was unusual, but that if anybody would be sensitive it would be a Golden, as they strike her as having particularly sensitive skin. I took her word for it and, a hundred dollars later, we left the office with a dose of Bravecto and a Telex from Visa to hand over the pink slip on Roo. The one dose is supposed to last three months, and comes in a tasty treat that Dr. Rhyne said dogs love.

Now, Roo is a real chowhound. She will eat anything, from parking lot tortillas to popcorn. I’ve never seen anything like it. In the world of great canine gluttons, Roo might be Queen. I can’t think of the last time I’ve given her something that she wouldn’t eat. 

It took Bravecto to put an end to that. Not only would she not touch it, but when I resorted to cutting it up and mixing it in her dinner, she picked out the little pieces one by one and spat them out. I cut them down to the size of crumbs and flattened them into bits of cheese. She flapped those around in her mouth with the most complicated tongue gymnastics in a dog’s repertoire until she worked all the cheese down her gullet and the crumbs out on the floor. It took three slices of cheese and one slice of salami - let’s round it down to 400 calories of pure fat - to dose her. Nothing in the world has ever disgusted Roo as much as Bravecto. Even when she has to have pills, no matter how bitter, she scarfs them down as long as they’re in a little piece of cheese. This stuff revolted her. 

Let’s hope it works better than it tastes. That and the 200 milligrams of doxycycline I took to ward off the Lyme.

Could somebody please, please, send us to Switzerland now? I am burned out to a crisp, and it's not even the middle of April yet.

This little bird flew into the house

I heard someone bumping into the window in the living room and went to check what was going on. This little bird had flown in through the kitchen door, then had a look around and couldn't find his way out. Naturally, Roo was delighted that a frightened bird was flapping against the window. The bird wasn't too enchanted with Roo. He flew to the highest perch available on a dirty old stone wall and wouldn't budge until I ushered Roo out of the house. Once the laughing predator was gone, the problem was getting the bird to leave. The bird was going to have to figure it out on his own. I opened the front door and backed off. Sensing an escape, the bird flew down, but he ignored the door and tried the closed window again. The poor guy really gave himself a good bump. Making an idiot of myself by talking to him as if he could understand me, I tried showing him the way by walking in and out a few times. "See, little bird? Here you go, just fly here." He kept an eye on me and cocked his head back and forth a few times. 

I moved to the other side of the room to give him some room to maneuver and said, "Okay, now you try it." He accompanied himself with some worried chirping and flew straight out the door.

I went to let Roo back in. She barreled in, sliding on the floor and looked around. If the dirty look se gave me is any indication, she figured it out immediately. 

Is this Golden Retriever doomed?

Any dog driven around in the bed of a pickup truck lives life at the mercy of an idiot. Why would I say something so unkind? Because dog owners like that (they're not, by definition dog parents) consider themselves immune to accidents or so much as ever having to stomp on the brakes. This dog's owner is more in love with the image of a tough guy with a hunting dog in the back of his 150 than he is with his dog. 

A dog has a high center of gravity to begin with. All it takes is the minimal sideways moment of an unanticipated swerve to launch them out of a truck, even without a full-blown accident. If there is an impact, the dog will enter free flight - which always ends with a hard landing. It's not the flying that hurts, it's the landing. I'm sure this particular gentleman would point out that his dog is attached to something by his collar. To which I reply that this represents the hope that the dog might die more quickly from being hanged than broken in half on a telephone pole.

Riding dogs in the beds of pickup trucks is about a half notch down from allowing people to carry loaded guns in bars.