Saturday, August 29, 2009

Visit to Mom and Dad's House

Sunday afternoon I packed Lucy, Clifford and Jack in the Scion and headed off to Mom and Dad's, to introduce Jack to the pugs. I was unsure if all 3 hounds would fit in the car but they did! Go Scion!

Jack was great with the pugs although I kept him muzzled most of the time, just in case. I didn't want him to see Amos or Benny sprinting across the yard and suddenly think they were Ollie*, lol. I also kept him on leash for a bit, and walked him around the perimeter of the yard a few times before feeling comfy letting him off-leash. Mom and Dad have a half-acre and it is securely fenced, but the fence is a bit lower than mine (we call it a "Pug Fence") and I wanted to be sure Jack wouldn't challenge it. He didn't, and didn't seem remotely inclined, so I finally took him off to romp with everyone but kept a very vigilant watch, especially around the pugs.

Miss Alice, who is blind, doesn't "romp" but enjoys spending time on the deck. Look at her little front toofy, lol!! She's so cute but unfortunately has begun pigging on her feces again. Yum.

Cliff, aka "The Mouth of the South", with boyfriend Amos...

Hee hee. My, what big teeth you have-!

Jack, Mom, Lucy and Alice. I am proud to say that Lucy has gained a few pounds and doesn't look so emaciated anymore! I bought a slew of canned foods for her to try- from Innova and Wellness to Kibbles N'Bits-- the whole gamut of quality. Out of all the choices, she positively loved the canned Science Diet, which I have to admit, had/has me a bit miffed. I wish she would have picked a higher quality food- I am NOT a fan of SD- it has a lot of filler. But if she eats it, she eats it. I would buy her caviar at this point, just to get her to eat! Clifford picked DVP's Natural Balance canned, so he gets that added to his kibble and has also gained some weight. In fact, I had to let his harness out a bit to fit around his girth. YEAH! It is so satisfying to finally have dogs that EAT EVERY MEAL. They are both looking great and I am so happy.

Mom and Amos... I love this picture! So cute. And I love mom's new glasses. :o)

We then put the pugs inside so I could take Jack's muzzle off and play fetch. Wendy, our adoption group rep, said that he had shown some apptitude for it but I've had only so-so luck with him at my house. He did show some interest, though, when I took Benny's rubber football and creamed it across the yard with a tennis racket, lol. Twice was enough, and then he lost interest and wandered off. I'm not surprised- he is the most clueless, mule-ish, stubborn, A.D.D., unresponsive, unfocused animal I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Getting him to do something TWICE seems like a big achievement in my book. Go Jack, you little imp!

* The lures that greyhounds chase at the racetrack usually have nicknames. At Plainfield it was "Ollie" but I've heard many other tracks call theirs "Swifty." The last thing you want is for your greyhound to be playing with other dogs and suddenly target one as an Ollie! Since Jack is pretty fresh off the track I'm trying to be especially careful.

Hike at Montezuma- South Spring Pool and Esker Brook

It ended up pouring rain most of the day today, and even though it was only in the low 70's it was SO HUMID it felt mid 80's. I decided to go hiking with Clifford and Jack just to get their ya-ya's out, even though I knew we'd get soaked. I spent breakfast time mulling over my hiking books and eventually decided just to skate across the county to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and one of our favorite trail systems, Esker Brook.

After tucking Lucy in at the house with a peanut butter-stuffed marrow bone, we were on our way! The rain broke for a bit but came back with a vengeance. In between showers I tried to get some pics.

Burdock! A dog owner's worse nightmare. I am grateful it doesn't seem to stick to greyhounds, but I remember when I used to hike with my Alaskan Malamute Nelson and... oye. Burdock plus Malamute =BAD mats, lol.

We parked at the South Spring pool (below... and brownie points if you can find the Green Heron in there!) and walked up to Esker Brook the back way, then joined up the Ridge Trail and looped the Orchard Trail. All in all, it was about 3 miles round-trip.

A year ago, heck 6 months ago, this type of hike wouldn't have bothered Cliff. Today it just seemed to be too much. It just breaks my heart... Cliff is my hiking buddy. My Energizer Bunny. And now at 11, I have to realize he is starting to really slow down and cannot strain him with longer hikes. His heart is still there, but his body just isn't. :o(

Jack, at 2, relished the hike and 3 miles seemed a drop in the bucket to him. He walked well on the leash (although he pulled a few times, we were walking uphill so I let him haul me up lol) and it was really fun to experience the walk through his eyes. He hasn't been off the track all that long, and the "real world" is so NEW to him. Everything was fascinating and wonderful to him. It's so cute.

We saw some great birds: A Green Heron at the South Spring Pool, some Gold Finches, several Belted Kingfishers at another pool (not sure what it is called, but it is on that back stretch going into Esker Brook), and my favorite, a Northern Flicker! I heard it before I saw it. I was very proud that I could finally identify a bird by its voice (besides crows and blue jays, of course).

Satisfying hike, despite the rain! On the way home we stopped at Petco, and then came home to pamper Miss Lucy. I then spent a few hours devouring a great dog behavior book by Patricia McConnell ("The Other End of the Leash"). It is wonderful... should be required reading for everyone!


A New Linocut...Carved & Ready to Print

Working on several new linocuts for the Greyhounds in Art 2009 show. They are all one color, and I'm having a ton of fun with them!

Here's my most recent.... Block all drawn, colored in with a sharpie and ready to be cut:

The carved block (and Jack's foot):

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jackhammer on the Internet!

So I'm sitting her at lunch sipping my canned soup and munching leftover cake, and googling Jack on, well, Google. I LOVE greyhound ancestry research- unfortunately I was never able to find much on Cliff and Lucy. I think it was because they raced at lower end tracks, and didn't come from big kennels. No pictures of their sire and dam anywhere to be found. :o( But Jackhammer... ah ha! The other day I found Jack's kennel website (Fast Forward Greyhounds) but TODAY I found videos of Jack racing!! Holy cow!

FF Jackhammer Races

If you click on each date, you can watch the race (be sure to note which post Jack ran from so you can keep your eye on his colored silk!) :o)

Jack ran 9 races in Florida (Palm Beach), three schooling (?) races, and the rest Grade "J" which is a pretty slow grade. No wonder he retired at 2! Lucy ran grade A, the fastest grade. However Lucy raced at Plainfield (CT), which I think is a lower-end track than Palm Beach? And she raced until she was 5- I ordered several of her races on VHS the year I adopted her- and treasure seeing her fly around the track and WIN, time after time!!! I don't remember with Clifford. He went between 3 tracks in CT, MA, and NH, but retired at 3 1/2. I think he raced Grade C or B- I will have to look at the stuff I scraped up on him when I first adopted him. Unfortunately I never ordered VHS's of him racing, and by now I'm sure the tracks re-used the tapes. They usually only keep races a year after they occur.

I know this is totally stupid, but as I was watching Jack race around the track... I felt so SO sorry for him. Not because he was a racing hound but because he was trying SO hard but kept losing SO badly. I'm positive the dogs don't care, but I just want to leave work ASAP, run home, throw my arms around him and tell him "it's okay you lost so much, I love you anyway!!!" Lap after lap, he was obviously giving his all, and yet it wasn't enough. The official comments about him on each race are heartbreaking: "Much Trouble Early", "Bumped First Turn", "Collided Early", "Lost Ground." He's like the freaking George Costanza of greyhounds!


TGIF. Can't wait for the weekend. Tomorrow Cliff, Jack and I are going to go hiking and hopefully see mi amiga Kelly in the afternoon! And I have a PILE of books that I ordered from the library, that came in. A few are by Patricia McConnell Ph.D., a pretty famous (and awesome, from what I've heard) animal behaviorist and dog trainer. Can't wait to eat them up.

Later gaters.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


Jack is settling into his new foster home pretty well! He really is a joy, even though I've had my moments of wanting to strangle him (he is, after all, a teenager. And a very stubborn and bullheaded one at that!). It is SO different having a 2 year-old, compared to an 11- and 12- year old... wow. I love Jack's vivaciousness, but it makes me sad to see his... youth, and vitality... next to Lucy and Clifford, who are creaky with arthritis and sway-backed with age. My poor Lucy and Cliff. Not that long ago they were also active, healthy, and full of vitality. Where did time go? Why does time do that to them? (*sniff*)

Surprisingly, Lucy tolerates Jack much more than I thought she would. She has even playbowed to him a few times! Clifford, on the other hand, is having some jealousy issues and enjoys bullying Jack more than appropriate. I can't tell if he's being a genuine asshole or if that's his way of trying to play?

I have been trying to pamper Cliff and give him more attention to placate his jealousy. Oh Cliffie, you know you are my favorite boy hound!!!

Jack seems to be a really nice grey (of course all greyhounds are nice, but still!). He love people and is a real tail-wagger. But his favorite thing of all are WALKS- he is a mini-Cliff. Hanging out in the backyard is no fun for him- he wants to go, go, go and explore the world! Cliff is the same way but unlike Clifford, Jack doesn't mind stopping and meeting people along the way. In fact, he relishes saying hello to people. I bet he will make a great therapy dog and/or meet and greet dog!

Jack has been sleeping through the night very well, but having some separation anxiety during the day when I leave (neighbors report howling- oh no!). He hasn't had any accidents inside but had some problems with our stairs (going up to the second floor). This morning he walked down half the stairs and then jumped the rest of the way, and strained himself. Oye. he has some learning to do...

Stubborness is Jack's middle name. I have never seen -or lived with- such a bullheaded dog in my life. Just one example: Our before-bed potty outing to the backyard. He doesn't want to go. Ever. I try to get excited, clap my hands, etc. to get him off the dog bed (or away from the front door, where he usually sits in hopes of a walk) to go outside. I use baby talk, tug on his collar, order sternly. He rolls over on his back and paws at me with a soft, pleading look on his kisser but still won't get up. I cajole, threaten, and order. He doesn't move. I physically haul his butt up to a standing position which immediately turns to jello and collapses as soon as I let go. I physically pull his front legs up and he lets himself fall over sideways like a ragdoll. I jiggle the dog bed back and forth. He doesn't care. I herd Lucy and Cliff outside and leave him all alone. He still won't get up. I offer cookies. No. I make high-pitched rabbit noises. Nope. And after jumping through hoops for a good 10 minutes, I end up grabbing his collar and sliding him across the linoleum floor on his backside until he decides to finally clamber to his feet right before the stair. As usual, I try to direct him to the back of the backyard but, as usual, he tries to evade me and lift his leg on my patio furniture instead (omigod, how many times do I have to tell you 'no'??).

On one hand I find the stubborn-ness kind of amusing. On the other hand, it is really irritating. :oP

He is also stubborn about the bolster bed that is right next to my bed. He wants to sleep in THAT bed, not his bed (which is 3 feet away at my feet, and is a plain dog bed). The Bolster Bed is traditionally Cliff's spot at night, and Lucy sleeps next to me on the "human bed." Jack will try over and over to squeeze next to whatever dog is in the bolster bed. And I will remove him over and over, and put him on HIS bed. It is a struggle every night- over and over. What a stubborn mule! He won't accept the fact that the Bolster Bed is Lucy's and Cliff's, lol.

He's lucky he is so cute! Not as cute as Lucy and Clifford, of course, but close. :o)


P.S.- Jack came from "Fast Forward Kennels" (his racing name is FF Jackhammer) and I happened to find their website on the internet! Here it is. The "Latest News" page hasn't been updated in a few months, but Jack is mentioned on there a few times, as are his littermates (they all have "J" names). How exciting!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Introducing our new foster... FF Jackhammer!

As if a camping trip isn't enough, we've got a new foster dog!! Introducing "FF Jackhammer", or "Jack." I had been thinking about adding a third dog to the family for quite a while now. I've really mulled about it, then pushed the idea out of my head, then mulled about it some more. A few months ago I talked to a few people about it, then decided it was the wrong time. But on Wednesday I was at work, consumed with the idea, looking at greyhounds on the internet as well as mixed breeds and purebreds on Petfinder during lunch break. I just couldn't get the idea out of my head and thought, "God, if it is the right time to add a dog to my family, please let me know. Send me a sign. It's SUCH a huge decision, I can't make it by myself!"

And that evening I was at Wegmans waiting to pick up a prescription when I got a call on my cell phone from Wendy, who heads our local adoption group. "I know you were thinking about a third dog a few months ago, and we just had a bounce..."

On Wednesday, Wendy brought Jack over to meet Lucy and Clifford. He was bounced from his home because he was a bit more energetic than the people wanted (he is just a teenager, having turned 2 in March). Lucy really liked him and even playbowed to him- holy smokes! Clifford was a bit more... haughty... and tried to bully him a bit.

After thinking about it a bit, I decided to take Jack on as a foster dog (with Wendy's approval) since he didn't have a place to go. If things work out between him, Lucy and Cliff, then we may add him to the family.

Tupper Lake

Road past Tupper Lake. The guardrail has fence nailed against it to protect turtles from the highway. Never seen anything like it!

Near Saranac Lake Island Campground

On the Road to Saranac Lake

Lucy and Clifford at Paul Smiths

Once again we visited the Paul Smiths Adirondack Interpretive Center. It was a nice morning but Lucy didn't seem to be enjoying herself and so I brought her back to the car, got her watered and comfortable, and then went back out with Cliff. We explored the Heron Marsh Trail, part of the Shingle Mills trail, and the Forest Ecology Trail.

Cliff at Barnum Pond, with Jenkins Mt. in the background...

Not the greatest picture, but on the trail I was startled when a half-grown fawn and Whitetail doe walked out onto the trail in front of us. They watched us for a bit before running back into the woods. What a great experience!

Sunset at the campground

Fish Creek Paddle

One evening I borrowed Dad's kayak (we had to return the one I rented for myself) and I paddled up Fish Creek while Mom and Dad watched Lucy and Clifford and hung out at the campsite. Because it was dinnertime at the campground, I had the creek mostly to myself. It was serene and very peaceful.

One of the most exciting things I saw was at Round Pond, which is just off Fish Creek. A loon and her baby!!! I was able to paddle within 15 feet and used my telephoto lens to get some great shots. Mom and Dad said they also saw a loon and her baby nearby, at Follensby Clear Pond, which they had paddled before I arrived. I wonder if it is common for loons to only have one baby?

Another treat I saw along Fish Creek... a juvenile Great Blue Heron. I've seen quite a few adults in my time, but never a juvenile. Instead of the distinct markings on the head, his face and torso were almost all grey and kind of shaggy, which indicated a youngster (at least, according to my bird book!).

I also saw a small flock of Black Ducks. They came right up to me and followed my kayak for awhile, begging for food. When I didn't give them anything, they went off on their merry way back down the creek, towards the campground lol.

And look at this fellow!! S/he was SO shy, and very small. What the heck is it? It kept diving under the water and eventually I never saw it again. At first I thought it was a tiny duck, but Dad looked at the photo on my camera LCD screen and noticed the beak wasn't duck-like. I then thought a juvenile red-throated loon, but the head is so... striped. I then thought maybe a grebe of some sort, but can't find a grebe with a stiped head. Any ideas?

Kayaking St. Regis Canoe Area

On Friday, my parents and I kayaked the St. Regis Canoe Area near Paul Smiths. It was a spectacular trip despite the on-off rainstorms. We saw some Eastern Painted Turtles, a loon, and a Great Blue Heron.

The scenery was spectacular. We kayaked almost 6 miles in all- my arms are still sore!


Mergansers at Round Pond

One morning we were treated to a flock of Mergansers swimming past our campsite! I was so freaking excited...never have seen these birds before! I can't tell if they were Common or Red-breasted Mergansers though-they seem so similar. Many ducks at the campgrounds are pretty tame from being fed, but these guys didn't give us the time of day. Really gorgeous.