Posts belonging to Category It’s A Dog’s Life


I’ve been dithering over what to get to replace the Avalanche since well before I had it paid off.  I was looking for something that could carry at least four people and two dogs and that would be easier for the dogs to get into and out of, particularly since Malcolm (the Collie) is not coordinated enough to climb like Boots can.

I finally got serious about it last week and decided to take a really close look at the Ford Flex.  It’s lower to the ground, has room for 6 or 7 people (depending on the chosen options), and the rear seats can fold down for the dogs.  After checking with my credit union to line up financing, I went to Five Star Ford (NRH) last Friday afternoon and spent about three hours with a lady from their credit union/fleet department test driving a couple of models (the SEL and Limited).  She was very easy to work with and (unlike the ‘regular’ part of the dealership) didn’t try to pressure me into taking what’s on the lot or any particular options.  She took the time to look around the area and find a Flex with the exact options that I wanted.  In particular, I wanted a Flex Limited with the 40-40 second row but without a console (and especially without that silly refrigerator option).  I also wanted the dark blue (what Ford calls “Kona Blue”).  It turned out that there was exactly ONE model within 300 miles, located at a dealership in Houston.  She called them and arranged a dealer trade.

So, as of 6:00pm yesterday, I traded in the Avalanche and I am now the owner of a 2011 Ford Flex Limited in Kona blue with silver roof:

Flexter?  Needs a nickname... Flex from the back.

It’s a little strange to NOT be driving a truck or SUV, since I’ve been driving them since 1993.  But I think this is a good compromise.  It’s got nice upright seating, and you can see fairly well, but you don’t have to climb into and out of it.  Another plus is that the second row seating has a lot of legroom.  I put the driver’s seat all the way back and was still able to easily get in and out of the second row (and had lots of room to stretch out).

Besides, I wasn’t using the capabilities of the Avalanche to its fullest: I haven’t towed anything in many years (since I moved to Keller) and I used the AWD maybe twice in the 7 years I had it.  So I really couldn’t see getting another SUV.  If I need to tow or haul, I can rent a truck or get a hitch fitted to the Flex when the need arises.

Doggone Bad Time In North Keller

When I read about this incident yesterday I was wondering what the heck is going on up there in North Keller.  This morning’s story update helped answer that when the fact that both parties had been drinking was added.

Anyhow, this is why I bring Malcolm in if it looks like he’s going to bark for an extended period of time:

KELLER—A 38-year-old man begged his neighbor not to shoot him a second time early Sunday after the two argued over a barking dog, police said Monday.

The shooter didn’t, but he said, “Get off my … property,” to another person who tried to help the wounded victim, police said.

Police identified the suspect as Edward M. Stewart of Keller who was free Monday after posting bail Sunday night.

Stewart, 49, was arraigned late Sunday on a charge of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one charge of deadly conduct.

The 38-year-old neighbor remained in a Fort Worth hospital Monday suffering from a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Along with his neighbor, Stewart accidently wounded his own wife during the incident, police said.

The shooting happened at about 12:34 a.m. Sunday in the 1300 block of Robin Court after Stewart and the victim had been arguing through a fence about the dog.

According to police reports, the victim was having a fantasy football party and the dog had been barking.

“The two were at the fence when the suspect told the victim that he would fight him if he climbed over into his backyard,” Keller police Lt. Brenda Slovak said Monday. “The victim climbed over the fence into the backyard.”

Stewart and the victim were both intoxicated, according to police reports.

The two pushed each other for a few minutes, police said Monday. At one point, Stewart’s wife tried to stop it, police said.

Within minutes, Stewart is accused of pulling out a revolver and shooting his neighbor in the abdomen, police said. The bullet went through the man and lodged in the leg of the Stewart’s wife, who was trying to stop the argument, police said.

“One of the friends of the victim was at the back fence, saw what happened and jumped over to help his friend,” Slovak said. “But he jumped back over when the suspect threatened him.”

Stewart’s wife was treated and released from a local hospital a few hours after the shooting.

Police had no record of responding to calls between the neighbors before Sunday.

Most of my neighbors also have dogs, and those dogs bark a lot, but fortunately they don’t do it too much at night.  Malcolm is also a prodigious barker, and if left to his own devices will bark for hours.  So I make sure to bring him in if he’s having a barking fit.  Heck, it annoys me, and he’s my dog.

It’s going to be interesting to watch this case to see how it unfolds.  There may be a chance the shooter can claim self-defense.  But given that both of these kuckleheads were drinking and fighting, it makes things more murky (i.e. depending on what was said by the shooter, the shootee might be able to claim mutual combat).  I suppose it will depend on who tells the best story to the grand jury. 

But regardless of the court outcome, I suspect that one or the other of them will probably have to end up moving.  Shooting your neighbor / being shot by your neighbor, doesn’t exactly make for warm-and-fuzzy future relations. 

Muddy Mess

I just let Malcolm in from his morning yard patrol session and was dismayed to see that his paws were covered in mud.  Given how dry it’s been around here of late I was wondering just where the heck he found any mud.  I went outside to discover that the entire back corner of my yard was wet because my neighbor seems to have blown another sprinkler head.  This happened during the summer and until he fixed it every time he would run the sprinkler it would turn that corner of the yard into a mud hole. 

It really wouldn’t be that big of a deal except for the fact that Malcolm likes to patrol the fence line.  Oh well…  life with dogs does have an occasional trying moment.  But they’re worth it in the end.

Almost Made It…

While I was gone I had a pet-sitter look in on the dogs three times a day.  They suffer a little bit from separation anxiety because I work from home and I’m always around, so they’re not used to spending a lot of time by themselves.  Boots doesn’t have too much problem being left alone and I’ve left her here for 8-10 hours without problems (although she did tear up the door frame once, but that was during a thunderstorm).  Malcolm, though, had some issues when I first got him.  But I thought he’d gotten over them.

So I was a bit annoyed to come home to find he’d destroyed a pillow.  What’s worse is that he’d been good up until the last minute.  The sitter had been here at 6:00pm and there was no problem.  He tore up the pillow sometime between when the sitter left and 7:30pm, when I arrived.

Looks like I’m going to have to take them to stay with someone else or put them in a kennel in the future if I’m going to be gone for more than a day.

Not While I’m Around!

A student teacher in St. Cloud, MN has left a training program at a local high school because some scum sucking student threatened to kill his service dog:

A St. Cloud State University student in a teacher-training program at Technical High School left the school in late April because he says he feared for the safety of his service dog.

The school district calls it a misunderstanding, and officials there say they hoped Tyler Hurd, a 23-year-old junior from Mahtomedi who aspires to teach special education, would continue his training in the district.

Hurd said a student threatened to kill his service dog named Emmitt. (emphasis added)  The black lab is trained to protect Hurd when he has seizures.

The threat came from a Somali student who is Muslim (emphasis added), according to Hurd, St. Cloud State and school district officials.

The Muslim faith, which is the dominant faith of Somali immigrants, forbids the touching of dogs.

To be honest, I like dogs more than I do most people.  Regardless, though, this sort of thing is simply unacceptable in our secular society.  I don’t give a rat’s ass about his religion and what he thinks of dogs.  It’s not acceptable to harm a dog or even to threaten to do so.  My immediate reaction if this had been one of my dogs would have been to tell this scum sucking piece of crap that I’d gut him like a fish if he so much as looked cross-eyed at either of them.

I’ve always thought that how a person reacts to dogs tells you a lot about their character.  In this case, I can think nothing good about someone who would threaten to kill a dog because of religion.  Such a person does not belong in America…

And now, to alleviate the bad taste left by that article, and to lower my blood pressure, I give you dog pictures…

Via Rachel Lucas.

Free Floating Fur

While on the topic of dogs, I should point out two facts that will allow you to readily deduce the current state of my house.  First, Malcolm is a rough collie.  Second, shedding season is now in full force.

‘Nuff said.

Dirty Dogs

I finally got around to doing my tax return over the weekend and idly considered putting “Canine Door Operator” on the line where the IRS wants to know your occupation.  But since I figured they have no sense of humor, I decided against it.

A while back I actually went to the trouble to purchase a suitably-sized dog door to allow Boots (and now Malcolm) unfettered access to the outdoors.  However, before I went to the trouble to hack a hole in the back door to install it, I came to my senses.  A door large enough for the dogs is also large enough for a person.  And given her behavior with regards to the door, I fully expected to find Boots sitting there with her head holding it open so she could watch the birds and squirrels.  Further, as it already costs a (metric) butt load of cash to cool this place in the summer, the last thing I need is a doggy-accessible portal to 95° air.

Out Standing In His Field

If you have dogs you don’t realize how nice a fenced yard is until you have to do without one for a while.  My mother lives on about 4 acres in East Texas, which are not fenced.  So whenever the dogs needed a potty break, I had to go out with them.  Unlike the neighbors up the road with their pack of unruly curs, I’m not going to let my dogs roam unsupervised.  Besides those other dogs and the road (which people have a nasty tendency to engage at warp speed), there are various wild animals around.  Not to mention that Boots has shown a distressing tendency to roam great distances if not closely supervised (i.e. on leash, since she conveniently forgets that I exist if she gets beyond 20 feet away). 

Interestingly, Malcolm is much more human/pack oriented, so I was able to take them both out by putting only Boots on a leash.  Malcolm would then orbit either Boots or me and generally stayed within 50 feet or so of both of us (and would come back when called if he started to get a little too far away).  While not quite as secure as having both of them on the leash, it was much more convenient, since the two of them seem to have an instinct for crossing back and forth and tangling their leashes.

Anyhow, it’s a bit annoying to be awakened by a whining dog at 2:00am when it’s 40° and raining.  Although I have to acknowledge that it could be worse, since I’ve had to do the same duty in the past while visiting my sister in Colorado (which, in December, means really bundling up, rather than just throwing on a jacket in addition to the flip-flops).

The Indignity!

In her ongoing series of doggie dressup pictures, I think Rachel Lucas may have captured the perfect portrait of dog resentment towards the silly things that hoomans inflict upon dogdom.

I tried to put antlers on Boots once, but it was an utter failure.  She only sat still long enough for me to get one picture before she shook them off.

I will kill you in your sleep for this

Since then, I have decided it best not to attempt anything of the sort again.

The Malcolm Report

Alternate title: The Dog Slobber Report

Malcolm seems to be adjusting to life here, although there have been a few rough spots along the way. 

He’s now officially banned from the bed because of an unfortunate pee incident.  But he learned fairly quickly not to chew the couch cushions.  He chewed them twice while I was out.  After the second incident I gave him a good scolding and he hasn’t messed with them again.  On the bright side is that he chose the back edge to chew on, and he didn’t chew too much of it, so it remains hidden however I flip the cushion. 

Tomorrow marks the two week anniversary of his neuter operation, and he’ll be going back to have the sutures removed.  Amazingly, he didn’t act like anything had happened once he was back home.  The vet gave instructions that he was supposed to be on “limited activity” for the first 7 days, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to limit it other than to lock him into a room or something.  He was running and jumping right away and immediately started playing with Boots.  They’ve spent hours and hours playing (and slobbering on one another and me) since then and the only incident that I noticed was when Boots rammed her head into his underbelly.  He jumped several feet into the air and yelped when that happened. 

I noticed that he doesn’t like to climb up into the truck, which is odd because his long legs should make it fairly easy (this was before the surgery).  He’s also quite reluctant to come down (he slowly slides his head over the edge and then kind of slides off the seat onto the ground).  While Boots has no problems getting in and out, when I factored in Malcolm’s issues and thought about the strain on her forelegs when she jumps down, I decided to get a ramp.  I found a really nice telescoping ramp with an aluminum frame that should have been suitable for both of them.  Unfortunately, the first time I extended it the aluminum made a screeching sound that traumatized the both of them.  I tried introducing them to it slowly (i.e. leaving it on the floor and letting them sniff it and get acclimated to it), but nothing I could do would convince them to get on it.  I finally managed to get Boots on it a couple of times by setting it up on a chair in the living room and putting a treat at the top.  It was set up such that the only way either of them could reach the treat was by walking up the ramp.  But Malcolm is still a no-go, so I’m guessing the ramp is going to be a waste of money.  That, or I’ll just have to spend more time letting him get used to it.  If they won’t use a ramp, then maybe I’ll have to look at getting a shorter vehicle in the future (that said, I happened to notice the ‘08 Honda Elements look better than the first ones, which I had originally dismissed; perhaps it’s time for another look).

The two of them are prodigious poop machines.  I’m now trying to figure out what to do about the backyard, which is now something of a minefield.  I’m looking into some sort of “digester” (a doggie septic tank).  Either I’ll just get a commercial model (like the Doggie Dooley) or perhaps build something on my own (some instructions/examples here).  Over the weekend I started to dig the hole, but after pecking at the rock-hard ground a couple of times with a shovel I gave up and went back inside (my get-up-and-go had got-up-and-went). 

By the way, this dog business is fairly expensive:

* Initial exam, heartworm meds, flea treatement, city tag $150
* Grooming (mat removal, bathing, cutting) $50
* Neuter and microchip $300
* Unused ramp $100

Total so far:  $600 and counting

Edit: As noted in the comments, I have a mental block when writing/typing the name Malcolm.  I’ve edited the entry to fix the misspellings.