Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jam at the Movies

By Fred
We had our first night out at the movies with Jam this weekend--the new Muppet movie. You just never know what to expect on the dog's first movie. Bingo was a notorious critic and hard to please; he would yawn and snore so loud we were almost always forced to leave. Berkeley was pretty quiet. However, she somehow got the idea that when the movie ended and everyone stood up, it was her job to get us out of the theater first. Small bladder and big determination.

Predictably, Jam had his mind set on food and on the odors left behind, both of which can be found in abundance in the dark recesses under theater seats. He squirmed and sniffed struggled to reach this or that kernel of popcorn for quite a whie before giving up to watch the Muppet movie.

It's not that easy being Jam...

Too bad Ray Charles isn't still alive, or they could have done this duet again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ladies Man

Two weeks ago, we had a wedding to go to in Dover, FL.  And we thought it best if Jam had a babysitter. So, we sent out a call for a sitter.  Lynn and her girls responded that they could do it, but that Jam would have to be up for camping with her daughter as she was going on a Girl Scout overnight on Saturday.  Would that be okay with us?

Would that be okay, indeed!  YES!

So we went to the wedding knowing that Jam would be well cared for and would have a host of new experiences:

  • Girl Scouts (screaming, giggling, running, jumping, etc.)
  • Camping
  • Bonfires
  • Smores, avoiding eating them
  • I can only imagine what else ...
We were waiting for the call on Sunday from Lynn to come and get Jam.  We waited and waited.  Then about 3:30 pm, Lynn called. 

"We are about to leave the campground. It's up in Tarpon." she said.

"Oh great!" I said, "Why don't you just drop him off on your way?"

"Oh no." Pause. "I couldn't do that." Pause. "He needs a bath."

"Naw. Just drop him off."

"No. Really!  I can't give him back to you like this.  We will bathe him first!"  she said.  There was a smile in her voice. "He had a very good time."
Jam is in the center of a group of Girl Scouts. He is seated.  There  are three scouts to his left and to to his right. Lynn's daughter is next to Jam on the left.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cultural Activities

When Cheryl is away
For the weekend, like this one,
Time crawls to a stop.

The dogs look to me
For fun times, and finding none,
Respond with a sigh.

"Let's watch some TV,"
I said, but they would prefer
To dig up cat poop

…in the yard.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dream a Little Dream

By Fred
During the past several weeks Jam has gotten more and more excited about the prospect of getting out of his crate in the morning. He seemed to have an internal clock that went off about 15 minutes before Cheryl and I wanted to get out of bed, and he whimpered and whined with the strangest sounds ever to come from a dog. He was becoming a real pest.

But the other morning I woke up before Cheryl. I could hear her gentle breathing--not snoring (I would never imply such a thing), but more like the gentle rush and flow of the waves at the beach, in and out, pleasing to my ears because I know she is dreaming nice thoughts about me.

So I remained very still, waiting for Jam to start up his silliness. But he never did, at least not until Cheryl's audible breathing became quiet and she stirred a little, and this was nearly an hour past our normal time.

Was he listening to her? This was my new theory, but I didn't say anything to Cheryl. Later that afternoon I took a short nap with him next to the bed. I woke up with him staring into my face. "Just 10 more minutes," I said, but he started whining and being silly, shaking his tail around. So I closed my eyes and faked a gentle snore. And he laid back down on the floor, immediately.

A picture of Jam waking from a napLast night I told Cheryl about the theory, and this morning we tested it. Or at least I did--I'm not sure if she was awake or not, but she was not at all quiet (again, it is a pleasant sort of thing). Jam didn't make a sound.

Then the alarm went off and so did Jam. But that's another issue, and maybe we need to abandon the alarm. He's getting much better, and now he knows that, once we are up out of bed, he has to be quiet before he gets out.

So, all along we thought Jam could be a pretty rude dog, especially in the morning. It turns out that he's a polite and considerate dog after all, but only when he thinks we are asleep.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Strange Thing about Physical Therapy

About a month and half ago, perhaps more, I sprained my ankle letting Jam out to busy one dark morning.  For the past 4 weeks I have been going to physical therapy to retrain my ankle to recognize when it is falling so it can correct itself and I won't hurt myself again.  

Usually, all this occurs on a Tuesday.  Usually.  Last week, was, unusual.

I had Jam on a Tuesday.  I don't know why, but I did and that meant that he had to come to PT with me.  I hadn't thought it out, but the day was over and it was time to go to PT and there was just no choice.

We had to go.

Of course, they loved him.  To start.  He was very good. To start.  Megan, my PT, started me on the treadmill.  6 minutes of me walking sideways: two on one side, two on the other and two backwards.  Jam was fascinated with the treadmill.  The big open room filled with physical therapists and their patients were fascinated with me and Jam.  

I was sweating and it wasn't because of the treadmill.  

"Jam. Sit." He sat.  "Down." He went down. "Stay."  He stayed ... up he popped.  I'm on the treadmill remember. 

I leaned a little over the treadmill. 

 "Jam. Sit." He sat.  "Down." He went down. "Stay."   He stayed.....up he popped.  

Criminy how much longer on this torture device?  4 minutes! OMG.  I will never make it.  

JAM! SIT!  He sat. DOWN.  He went down.  For 2:25.  Up he popped.  Now I am walking backwards and try to attempt a sit, my PT Megan races over and stops the machine as she waits for me to get Jam down.  I must have looked a bit tipsy. Hmmmm.

Now we are on the balance board.  Jam likes that.  He watches and he watches through the weight machine. But when she walked me over to the place where you stand on one foot and throw a ball at a trampoline, I just looked at her.

"Oh.  Perhaps we should skip that one for this week."

"I would really appreciate it!" Jam was giving me the evil eye.  He knew something was up.  So she set me up on a weird stretcher pulling thing and I started to do some exercises while standing and attached to a post in the middle of the room.  Jam was attached to a table as seen below.
Jam sitting by a Physical Therapy table.
 Jam did not like my being so far away and gave a preemptive come over here bark.  Everyone got very quiet as they watched to see what I would do.  I went hot and then I went cold. Oh poo.

"No noise, Jam."

BARK! (Read, Come here right now, I mean it!) This was followed up with a little back pedalling because he knew he wasn't supposed to do that.

"No noise."  I waited a few moments for the quiet to sink in and then unhooked myself and went over to where he was and got him.  Then took him back to where I was.  I was really tense, but I could tell Jam was too.  So when I got him next to me, I put my hand on his head and in a really calm voice I said, "SHHHHHHHH."

We both calmed down.  I finished the set.

Then we went back to the table.

This is my trainer Megan.  She really loves labs, so after the session, I took Jam's coat off so she could pet him.  Jam  is lying down next to her.
 Next time, if there is a next time, Jam needs to be super tired and worn out before coming to PT.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tim, The Enchanter

There are three boys from the Heather-Jack litter in our obedience class: Jam, Lucky and Tim. Lucky seems pretty laid back with a little bit of silliness, but Tim, he's quite different altogether. I call him Tim the Enchanter.  Here he is when he is being good and not egging Jam on to bad behavior.
Photo of Tim laying down by his puppy raiser.  Fred and Jam are behind them.  Jam is standing and reacting to something, could Tim be sending silent signals?
However, sometimes, Tim will change from Good Tim into Tim the Enchanter and then all bets are off.
Photo of John Cleese playing Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Once the Enchanter is in the house, Jam is completely out to lunch, which is what happened when Trainer Karen decided we were going to do the meet and greet exercise, which is where two puppies and their raisers walk towards each other and try to get closer and closer without one of the puppies completely losing their snot.  As Trainer Karen proceeded to pair the puppies up, Tim and Jam ended up with each other.  OOOOH.  Two 6 month old boys who just got their nuggets and are filled with testosterone.  This is going to be fun.

I walked Jam back a bit for the exercise to begin.  We started to come together.  Jam eyed the evil Tim and realized the duel had begun.  Clearly, a calm walk forward was NOT called for.  What was needed was a LEAPING JUMP and then GRAB HIM BY THE NECK ALA CALL OF THE WILD!

We backed off and tried again, but as soon as we backed up, Jam was already laser locked on Tim's eyes. Did it matter that Tim was looking down and wagging his tail. No! Tim had obviously issued a challenge.  Jam was honor bound to return said challenge.  They met and clashed again like a pair of jousting knights.  Rather Tim calmly walked forward and Jam leap forward and grabbed his neck in a mad dog wrestling lock a la Andre the Giant and prepared to toss Tim to the ground when I yanked him back.

Hmmm.  This duel wasn't going as Jam expected.  Each time they met, the leash holder was screwing it up for him.  What was he doing wrong?  Could it be the obvious stare down he was giving Tim?  Could it be the foreshadowing of the leaping jump that was about to come?  All of this Trainer Karen was able to point out to me.

"Don't look at the person coming towards you.  Look at Jam.  He will signal what he plans to do.  Then you just need to correct him before he does it, when he signals his intentions. And give lots of praise afterwards."

So take that enchanters!  No longer will Jam respond to your evil challenges.  I have your number!  He will be a good boy from now on. I am walking with intention and looking at Jam and if I walk into a wall, you had better not laugh!

After all, this is for a good cause.  And laughing would be wrong.  Oh so wrong. 8-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Funeral for a Fish

By Fred
My favorite fish died today. She was a sweet little fish, never fussing or complaining. I called her Calico because she was the cutest combination of red and white that you can imagine on a Koi (or any other creature for that matter).

Our tradition here is to hold a fish funeral each time one our wet little friends passes into the big pond. In this case the fish cemetery is our bamboo stand, because our bamboo are also very fond of fish. Next year a big bamboo shoot will jump up in this place.

I thought that because Calico was a special fish, Jam and Willow should be in attendance, especially as this would be a new exposure for Jam, but they only attended the service, not the burial itself--I didn't want them to tempted to dig up our little friend later on.

A picture of Willow and Jam, and Jam looks like he is crying (or smelling fish)Here's Jam and Willow at the service, and I was surprised to see them take it so hard. Poor Jam is crying like a baby. Or maybe he just caught a scent in the air?