Saturday, December 26, 2009

Lucy's friend Malcolm


 Lucy and Mal share a blanket at the ballpark

I had a great Christmas but came home from family gatherings to find out that my dear friend Tracy lost her greyhound Mal early Xmas morning. I am so, so sorry Trace. :o( Mal was such a wonderful boy and it was such devastating news; although he had suffered problems since breaking his back and pelvis while racing, he truly made the most out of his retirement years given the health complications he faced. Trace said it, and I agree: He was probably the most perfect and saintly greyhound ever born on this earth. He was a very, very special guy.


Mal and Lucy rest at the Dewey Fun Run

I know this is totally anthropomorphizing, but after talking with Trace I knelt down next to Lucy and told her that Mally passed away. She met my eyes and then turned her head away, refusing to acknowledge me for almost a minute. It made me feel so bad. I sat next to her for a few hours after, and we watched TV without really watching. How awful to lose a dog ANYWAY, but on Christmas? How shitty is that? Why do things like this happen? Why did God give dogs such short lifespans- I mean ten? Eleven? Thirteen? Fourteen? TOO short. It just isn't fair.

Jen

Christmas Eve Romp



Lucy has a "biscuit high" from all the treats she got on Christmas Eve. Run, girl, run!

Christmas Eve Chat with Kaya


Christmas Eve Skijor


We've been lucky to have snow! And when Christmas Eve rolled around, I was REALLY ancy to go out skiing with the dogs again. It was perfect- overcast, mid -30's, no wind. First, Clifford and I drove over to the local community college and went for a 1-mile spin on the trails.



Isn't he a handsome gent? :o) I had given him a hit of "doggy crack" (Metacam) in the morning, and by afternoon he was revved. The 1-mile loop was just enough for him. In fact, he was so excited at the beginning that he bordered on out-of-control and I almost had to stop and take him to task. It was just like the old times! He got in and out of the car fine, didn't show any limpy-arthritis at all. Metacam is truly elixir of the Gods.
 

 After I brought Clifford home, I loaded up Jack and we went for a 3-mile ski down the Erie Canal, starting in Port Byron and going halfway to Weedsport. I was SO psyched to see a Downy woodpecker and Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the start of the trail! Unfortunately I didn't have my telephoto lense, though, so pics came out poorly.



If that wasn't enough, we were skiing down the trail alongside the canal when a long, thick brown animal suddenly plunged off the trail down the bank. It was only a couple feet from Jack, and he paused in shock before diving at it. I dove at Jack at the same time, and thankfully the animal escaped safely down the bank. It went under the ice and was gone. I was (am) really perplexed because it LOOKED like a river otter, but I have never heard of river otters living around here - I thought they were more "wilderness" animals. I've seen muskrats at the canal, but this was too thick and long to be a muskrat; it was so otter-like in shape. Too big to be a weasel. So strange. I took a photo of tracks nearby the spot, and when I got home consulted my "Identifying Animal Tracks" book. I found the perfect tracks to match the photo, but the caption in the book said, "Walking track of the American Alligator." Oops. Okay, I'm NOT that good at reading animal tracks, I guess! I will have to brush up on that!!

Unfortunately the rain came in Christmas day, and the snow turned to mush, then to water, and then changed the ground to mud. Today (the day after Christmas) has been a steady downpour, and my yard is an absolute swamp. For now, the skis have been put away. :o( Where are my hip-waders??

Jen

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lucy's New Heated Bed Pad


I ordered Lucy a special heated dog pad, since she's always chilly in the house. It arrived (YAY!), and I inserted into a nice soft candy-striped pink fleece. As you can see, she is totally enjoying it.

Hmpf.

Skiing with Greyhounds- Another Season Starts!


  Ummm... Cliff. Wrong way.

Last winter I decided to stop whining about the cold winters around here and embrace them instead... and I bought a pair of cross-country skis to go on winter outings with Cliff! The sport of skiing with dogs is called "Skijoring" and is a really fun activity. This is REAL skijoring:



Yeah, I don't do that. First of all, I can barely ski at slow-speed, much less FULL-speed. And second of all, my greyhounds would kill me in my sleep if I ever asked for them to actually PULL me, in a sled-dog type way. And that's what real skijoring dogs do.


These women are very brave and I am envious of them. If I was going that fast I would NOT be laughing.

This fall Cliff has really slowed down, and it seems that arthritis has really taken over his bad back leg. I need to get it x-rayed. I'm a little reluctant to go skijoring with Cliff unless it's a pretty short trip... first of all, I don't want him breaking trail (that's tough) and second of all, he really seems to experience pain in that leg getting in and out of the car (poor boy!). Makes it hard to drive to the trailhead. So, needless to say, I've been grooming young Jack to be my ski companion this winter.

First came harness and lead training this fall:


For the past few weeks, Jack has been getting special training sessions on the retractable lead. I am NOT the type of person to just throw my dog on a retractable and hope for the best. They can be dangerous in the hands of incompetent people, children, or daydreamers so it's important for dogs (especially sighthounds, imho) to really be trained to them and for their humans to be very aware of the environment they're walking their dogs through. Since adoption, we've been working on Jack's tendency to bolt at squirrels and cats on walks, and he's shown remarkable progress(remarkable in the fact that he's really not the brightest bulb in the package, and I mean that in the most loving way possible lol!). Once Jack began demonstrating excellent 6-foot leash manners, we slowly moved to the retractable (WITH secure safety of course... if you drop the leash, you don't want that plastic casing clanking on the ground after the dog, scaring it to bolt. I use an old trouser sock to tether the casing to my wrist. Not the sexiest accessory, but I wouldn't be without it!!). We've been testing the retractable in the neighborhood AND at the local nature trail, where rabbits, squirrels and even deer cross the trails in plain view. I've been very proud of my pup! He's showing great attentiveness to me on the lead, even more so than Cliff who has been using a retractable for years.

So anyway... with Jack's lead training going full-throttle and the first snow on the ground, we went off to the local A-F Trail earlier this week for our first skijor!



Yep, Jack did REALLY well. I'm proud! He was a bit nervous of my skiis when I pulled them out of the car, but once he got to sniff them, he was totally okay. He stayed out front as I skied (ski'ed? Skiid? How do you spell that?) almost the whole time.

Of course, we did have our moments....



There were quite a few potty stops. Can't let a scent go unmarked, of course!...

...and a few times, Jack decided off-trail was more interesting than ON-trail...



...Come back, Jack!



...But don't come THIS far back!

Anyway, it was a fun first outing. We got a lot more snow last night, too, so there will be more skijoring to come! Can't wait! Experiencing the woods in the winter is so special, even more so than in the summer I think. There is something so mysterious and -profound- about a snow-filled forest.

Example one, of my first ski outing with Cliff last winter. Bear Swamp. I hadn't been on skis in over a decade, forgot Cliff's harness, and was WAY overdressed (you get hot skiing- it's like jogging!). But man, the woods were spectacular. Take a look at that, have you ever seen anything so pretty in your life?



Jen

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Little Social Butterflies

We had a busy weekend... I mean, most weekends seem to fly by anyway but this one was gone in less than 2 blinks.

This weekend the hounds had 2 playdates! Well there wasn't much playing, maybe "pee-dates" and "sniff-dates" would be more apt, because the urine was certainly flowing freely...


My parents were showing their house on Saturday, so they loaded up Amos and Benny* and came to our house for a visit. With four boys in the yard, there was a lot of marking, barking, marking, and marking. Lucy made a brief appearance but quickly went back inside (that black blob scurrying past the viewfinder? Yeah. Lol). She isn't fond of small dogs (or female dogs, or large dogs, or medium dogs, or wrinkly dogs, or active dogs, or...).



Of course, Amos was thrilled to hang out with his BFF, Clifford. I'm not sure the feeling was mutual, lol.

 

The next morning, Sunday, we babysat lovely Mercedes for a couple hours. Lots of wandering and sniffing, but no zooms or chases. With Lucy at 13 and Cliff and Mercedes at 11, I guess that era is behind us. And while Jack will occasionally gallop around the yard, it's really not his thing, especially if a ball isn't involved.


No balls here...


 ... of any kind!

 

 

 I think Mercedes had a good time, and my pups seemed to enjoy the company! Two days in a row, too. They are becoming social butterflies!

Jen

*My parents still have Nightmare Alice, but their real estate agent said it was fine to leave her at the house when it was being shown or during an Open House since she is blind and just sits in the kitchen, staring at the wall. I'm not sure I'd want my smelly dogs in sight when trying to sell my home, but my parents are adamant that she is a fantastic Ambassa-dog for them. And they call ME crazy! Jeesh!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jack Demonstrates his first learned command!



It has taken ALL WEEK, but Jack finally learned his first word- "shake"! Watching Lucy and Clifford really seemed to help him learn the technique. I'm a proud momma tonight! :o)

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Etsy Listings & Art Mumbo Jumbo




I meant to get these up on Etsy for awhile now but life got in the way! This is "Escape by a Hare"- a fun piece I did with Lucy as my model- kind of appropriate to post it up after her successful dental surgery I guess! It is available right now on yellow Lokta paper or off-white Kitakata. Free shipping to US and Canada still on until Jan 1, holiday promo!! :o)  My Etsy Store

I am going to try to be a bit more proactive about my art in 2010. Well, I guess I should say I'm going to try to be a better MARKETER. I think most people who make art get a bit squeamish about marketing and I'm no exception, but it seems like there is more I can do. First of all, I would like to revamp my website. I did a quick re-design last month but I'd like to have my site AND blog under the same domain name. I do enough reading of art marketing books and websites, as well as haunt the Art Business forum on Wetcanvas, to know that if you aren't constantly updating your website and "freshening it" then people will stop visiting- and right now I only update a few times a year. :o(  So I'm exploring Wordpress as a content-management site AND blog- all rolled into one- we'll see. Another thing I want to do is more promotions, and I'm thinking to perhaps have special promotions (sales?) in March, June and September in celebration of Jack's, Clifford's and Lucy's birthdays. Good idea? Corny??

And speak of the devil, Lucy was doing great this morning. She had a nice breakfast of home-baked beef/veggie cookies that I slaved over yesterday and also polished off a can of tuna. She refused the SD Dental Kibble that she was so heartily scarfing up yesterday, and also declined a bowl of yogurt (Clifford was happy to eat it for her, lol). It took her awhile to get out of bed (nothing unusual- she's not a morning person) but once up, she was her usual perky self. She used the dog door easily, and visited me in the bathroom while I was taking a shower (her m.o.). Her back-end isn't as saggy as it was the other day, either. However my boss told me this morning that anesthesia can stay in your body for up to 6 months (is this true?) so maybe she'll still be a bit shaky in the future?

Lunch hour is done- time to get back to work! Happy Monday everybody.

Jen

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lucy- Home Sweet Home



Lucy's dental is done and my girl is home!

I was an absolute nervous wreck dropping her off at the hospital before work on Thursday... I mean, I literally felt like I had 20,000 butterflies eating away at my stomach lining. Poor Lucy looked as nervous as I felt... it's almost as if she knew what she was in for, lol. I could barely get her in the door, hauling her as well as her bed and a stinky old dog blanket from the car... we were a disaster. The techs were kind and let me go back and get her settled in her kennel run before I was whisked away and on my way to work, eating my fingernails with anxiety.

Doc B. called about an hour later, letting me know that they had started pre-op, and things were going well so far. I assumed that meant her blood work was fine and none of the techs had had their faces ripped off yet. She said she was a "good girl" (ha!) and that they'd call back in a bit.

It didn't seem very long before Doc G.*, who was to perform Lucy's dental, called to tell me they were done. I was surprised it went so fast. They only pulled out one tooth (the abscessed one). Doc G said that Lucy had difficulty with the anesthesia so they worked as fast as they could and then got her out of there. Apparently the anesthesia they usually use on greyhounds didn't touch her at all, so they switched to another, but she kept waking up during the procedure anyway, and had some difficulty breathing at times. She did maintain a steady heart rate through everything though. Still- the thought of her having difficulty gave me the shivers. They asked to keep her until late afternoon so they could keep her on the IV and monitor her a bit more.


What. A. Long. Afternoon. I did busy-work and ordered Lucy a heated dog-bed pad during lunch break. When 3 o'clock came my ass was flying out of work and speeding back to the city to pick my girl up. I did a quick stop at Kohl's and bought her a beautiful purple plush blanket to recover on - $25- I have never spent that kind of money on a blanket in my life! But it was so soft, and I knew Lucy would love it.

When I finally got to the vet's office, I had to wait about 20 minutes for the techs to bring Lucy out front. Not only did they have to take out the IV, but then Lucy got pissy and refused to leave the kennel. I guess it was nice they took so long to coddle her out instead of being more, uh, firm - it gave me time to pay the bill, go over her antibiotics, etc-  but man Lucy, hurry your rump up! I want to see you! When she was finally walked out, she had a shaved leg and looked a little loopy, but was otherwise okay. Happy reunion!

When we got home, both boys were fascinated with her and wanted to sniff her. That wasn't the most surprising thing, though- when I brought her out to the backyard to pee, Jack became very fresh with her- jumping around her, lashing out at her and making snarly noises. Poor Lucy was wobbling like a tinker toy trying to find a place to pee, and Jack was being an absolute asshole. I couldn't tell whether it was predatory/bully behavior or play- but he wouldn't listen to me when I told him to knock it off, so I ran over before he could escalate and physically removed him from the situation. (Later I chalked it up to her stinking like the vet's office and blood and that riling him up, but then this morning Clifford fell in the kitchen and began screaming, and Jack ran over and began lashing out at him -not making contact but REALLY wanting to- snarling and behaving the same way. What does this mean? Pack dynamics? High-prey behavior?  Combo?).

I slept on a dog bed with Lucy the first night, and took Friday off to monitor her. With the exception of a quick walkie with the boys and a trip to the hairdresser to lop my hair off, I stayed next to her the whole day. She slept a lot- mostly on blankets OTHER than the snuggly expensive purple one. :oP She slept most of Saturday too, but was definitely a bit perkier. She seemed to have trouble keeping her rump up though... she was walking and standing like someone kicked her in the butt... kind of droopy back there. Residual effects of the anesthesia? And not only that but she still finicky as ever! I thought the dental would make her more comfortable to eat, but she doesn't want to. Let me rephrase that: She wants to eat junk, like jerky treats, gnawesomes, and biscuits (even hard ones!) but doesn't want kibble, canned canine food, yogurt, Banquet TV dinners or even some pot pies I mic'ed for her.

Today I cooked up some hamburger and made hamburger-squash-pea-oatmeal-PB dog biscuits, just to get some nutrition in her. She loves them, so that's good. Took all afternoon- ugh, I hate cooking/baking. She's lucky I love her so much! :oP

She also loves the samples of prescription Science Diet tooth food that the vet gave us after her dental. Man, I HATE to have to buy her that crap but maybe I'll have to, if that's all she likes. I'm really not a SD fan at all.

Today Lucy has been barking at the wall and ceiling, so I assume she's back to her normally demented self. I can't wait for her heated dog-bed pad to arrive.... she is going to be in heaven!

Jen

*Not to be confused with Doctor G: Medical Examiner, the autopsy lady, from Discovery Health Channel, lol.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Santa & The Greyhounds...



I would first  like to thank everyone who have given their well-wishes to Lucy either via my blog, Facebook page, Etsy convo, email, etc. It has meant a lot to me! She goes in for her dental tomorrow and although I'm still a nervous wreck, I had a great conversation with her doctor last night, who laid out the whole surgery for me and answered all my questions. I'm feeling better. Someone remind me- no food after midnight! lol.

Also a huge thank you to everyone who has supported my art with your kind words and even purchases this holiday season. I've really been busy working on pet portraits and packaging up Etsy orders... thank you, thank you, thank you! (Lucy thanks you too!). :o)



I thought I would post some fun holiday-ish photos from the past few days. As you can see from the top photo, the hounds and I met "Santa" this past weekend in Liverpool at Canines Unleashed, a great doggie day-care facility. A bunch of other greyhounds were also in appearance, including our good friend Mercedes and Morgan (mix) with my friend Renee.




Santa's appearance was cause for celebration with the hounds. Jack was so excited he even attempted to lift his leg on St. Nick (played by our friend Wendy). Thankfully I caught him before anything trickled out, lol!

Clifford "talking" to Santa while Jack enjoys a butt scratch...



Lucy also enjoyed a cuddle with Santa... perhaps asking for a mouth of pearly whites this Christmas??

 
Renee and her two pups! Poor little Morgan was so afraid of Santa, she would only hold still if Renee came in the picture and held her, lol...






And then yesterday we got our first "real" snow! Hooray!



Jack spent the last year in Florida racing so I was interested in seeing how he reacted to the snow. Nothing huge... he just ran around with his silly tennis ball. Do I have a greyhound or a lab?

 

I was hoping it would stick and we'd get more, but today it's mostly melted, and rain is coming down hard. That means LOTS of mud being tracked through the dog door... lovely stuff! Speaking of which, I need to grab dinner and then mop. Later...

Jen

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Free Shipping on All Art!



I just get a kick out of this picture... taken a few years ago... don't Lucy and Cliff look thrilled?? :oD

Anyway, since it's that time of the year again... there are NO SHIPPING FEES on any of my prints now through the start of the New Year. Please visit my Etsy store and check it out!

Linocut Doodles



Boy, I got so riled up at the end of my last post I forgot to show the final images of my doodle linocuts! Here they are, "Adopt" and "Coy" (sigh, I need to come up with better titles in the future...). All on different scraps of beautiful Asian paper. I'm off to upload them into my Etsy store if you are interested...cute little original linocuts only $13 dollars each! Great stocking stuffers for the holidays! Proceeds go to the Lucy Dental Fund! :o)






 

 

 

Original Greyhound Linocuts on Etsy.com

Linos from Leftovers



This week I wanted to work on some small linocuts made from little doodles I've drawn. I've had a few small leftover pieces of linoleum, as well as some leftover odd-pieces of Asian paper (Kitakata, Mulberry, and Lokta) that were too small to use for my normal 8 x 10 pieces. What to do with all this 'leftover' stuff? I hated to throw it away (or, in the paper case, put it in the recycle bin) so I decided to sketch some small-sized drawings to use the extra supplies up.

 


I used to be an incorrigible doodler, but all of this changed in college. I remember my freshman year economics professor announcing to the class one time, "I see my lecture must be really boring because Jennifer is drawing dogs all over her notebook." Of course, as a shy, impressionable freshman I was MORTIFIED. He totally meant it in good humor and for the rest of my undergrad years would tease me about this EVERY time he saw me. Even today, working at my alma mater, he will run into me at faculty/staff receptions and lectures and tell anyone who will listen, "I used to have Jennifer in my economics class and I always knew I was getting boring when I looked over and there she was, drawing dogs all over her notebook..." And the other faculty members will laugh and nod their heads, and I realize they must have seen me doodling all the time too, lol. But they were discreet enough not to publically call me on it. :o)

Anyway, I came up with some small doodles this week at work (during lunch hour, NOT meetings- I was good!), transferred those to my leftover pieces of oddly shaped linoleum pieces, and used some of my leftover water-based Daniel Smith ink (I switched to oil-based Graphic Chemical a few years ago) and printed on leftover pieces of paper. I didn't use a press, but instead brought everything to my downstairs drawing studio and worked by hand.

Here's the setup, on my fake Oriental rug (NOT the best idea when you are messy like I am!! But thankfully I didn't get any ink on the carpet). My little linocut, all inked and ready to print:


 

Once inked, I turned my linoleum block over onto a piece of Kitakata paper, and rubbed the two together with a wooden spoon:

 

 Yay! This is the fun part- pulling the block and paper apart and seeing what you get. I was a bit nervous because I usually "mount" my piece of linoleum to a piece of plywood or MDF for stability, but the lino alone seemed to work this time:

 

 Lots of little "adopt" doodles, laying out to dry!:

 

I did another little linocut doodle of a little coy girl (Lucy was my model) - the photo of the block is at the top of this post. Here it is all printed on my scraps of leftover paper and set out to dry:

 

No laughing at my Mac Davis record in the background!!! "Hard to Be Humble" was my first LP- my Mom bought it for herself back in the day and eventually gave it to me sometime when I was in elementary school. I listened to that thing until it was scratched to pieces and absolutely unusable. A few years ago I found a company in Canada who had a non-scratched version of "Hard to be Humble" and they converted it to CD for me, and then sent me the CD and album to go with it. Score!! My original album, scratched to pieces, is framed in my bedroom and this copy sits in my art studio. Ah, Mac Davis. The only country singer I ever loved.... sigh. He just rocks.

My studio company for the evening:


Lucy Goosey (or, "Stinky Mouf") was such a good girl and napped on the couch all evening while I printed, snoring and farting away. Her dental is scheduled for December 10. To encourage her to eat, I've been trying to get ANYTHING into her system, including the crappiest dog food Ever (That Moist N'Meaty garbage, and Beneful wet food that comes in those plastic tubs). When that fails I give her "DogSure", which is a canine version of Ensure but must be made with pearls because it is $8 PER can (which is half a serving for a greyhound), Banquet TV dinners, cups of yogurt, Turkey Pot Pies, Chicken nuggets, Little Cesar pizza and Crazy Bread, ice cream, etc etc. This means she has the worst gas on Planet Earth and my wallet is the lightest wallet in the county but I'm feeling so guilty about her mouth. It must really be sore. :o( I can understand why she wouldn't want to eat certain things and to be honest, I'm so worried she might pass away during surgery that I want to make sure her (potentially) last week on earth is totally awesome and she gets to splurge and eat whatever garbage she wants. Am I totally insane? This upcoming dental surgery is making me a nervous wreck.

Speaking of nervous wrecks, my parents' house went up on the market last week. And it suddenly occurred to me that my 3 childhood dogs, buried at the back of the property, are also being sold with the house. I had (what I thought) was the great idea to have their bodies exhumed and moved to the pet cemetary about 30 miles away which is not a big deal, right? That way, they will be in a beautiful public cemetary with kindred canine spirits, and I can visit anytime I want. Well, Mom and Dad FLIPPED when I told them my plans. I started balling, Dad was yelling at me (I believe some of the phrases were: "They are dead and gone, why do you want their bodies!" "They don't have souls!" "What are you so upset about, it's been years!" "Maybe you need to see a mental health specialist!" "You are WAY too attached to animals!" "You need to see a doctor!" "What is it with you and those dogs!" "Why are you crying, they're dead and don't matter anymore!"etc etc). This, coupled with their not-so-subtle insistence that I need to euthanize Lucy instead of pay to have her teeth cleaned and abscess taken care of, because you know she's old and doesn't matter anymore apparently) has TOTALLY pushed me over the edge. Suddenly I've become the family freak. How did that happen?

Which, I mean, hello. I know I'm a bit crazy about SOME things (Am I the only one who wants to be tazered, just to see what it feels like?) but I'm NOT crazy about my feelings towards dogs. I mean, they are the best things on this planet and I just adore them to pieces. Yes, I would max out my credit card on their vet bills. Yes, I will spend half my paycheck on their food, toys, rawhides, vet care, treats, stuffies, coats and collars. Yes, I will build my vacations around doing fun outings with them. Yes, I consider them my family and on equal terms with any human being. Yes, I believe they have souls and deserve the absolute best care I can provide to them and I consider it a true blessing for them to share their lives with me. I would rather spend time with my greyhounds than anyone else on this planet. Cuckoo, cuckoo! Whatever.

Well, this post has turned into quite the venting session. Sorry about that.

Signing off for now,
Your friendly blogging Lunatic  :oP