Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pawsitive Attitude!

Today we are half-way through the class for Canine Good Citizen.

If all goes well, I may soon pass the test to earn my C.G.C. degree, just like Stormy.

Dorna Sakurai is the trainer for this class.  Check out her business, Pawsitive Feedback, at this website:

Here I am on my rug, ready to go.

Here are the other dogs in my class.

We have to learn to walk past each other without barking or pulling away to play.

This is easy for me--I'm a mother and over four years old.  I've been there, done that.  Probably I'm the only one here who has lived in Arizona.

Next to me is Sophia, just 9 months old--she's pretty distractable.

It helps to have something to chew when class gets boring.

Here we are doing circle 8's around cones.        

Even a pack of five dogs doesn't distract me.

If there's a squirrel in a tree, however, I can't be expected to pay attention to the teacher.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doggie Day Care

Roz is running a doggie day care at our house on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so Merlin arrives.

He's a cockapoo whose face (when you can see it) looks like the wizard in The Sword and the Stone.

Five months old--a ball of fire.  But Na'ilah tolerates him pretty well.  Stormy, not so much--he tries to mount her.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cool Dude Luke

Meet Luke, the new dog next door.

Steve and Shelley adopted him a couple of months ago.

He's pretty mellow.

Steve spins stories about his possible past as a police dog and calls him "Captain Luke."

 We're happy to have him in our neighborhood.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Taking a Hike

Na'ilah and Stormy and I walk Inspiration Loop in Will Rogers State Historical Park every week or two.

From the top we can see the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Santa Catalina Island on the south.

There's also Westwood and behind that, downtown Los Angeles on the east.  

Sometimes we have to share the road with horses.  

There's also the occasional deer in the horse pastures.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Good Dog?

I'm so used to saying, "Good dog."

When I walk Na'ilah, feed her, let her in the house or send her back outside, that's what I tend to say.

Now, however, I can't speak those two words without adding a question mark or an ironic comment:

"So far, so good today, Na'ilah.  You haven't killed any cats."

"Na'ilah, are you a good doggie today?  You aren't going to attack any cats, are you?"

John points out that she may get in trouble when I take her to Colorado for the summer.  There are deer, skunks,  and porcupines, not to mention moles, chipmunks, weasels, and coyotes.

I guess I'll have to keep her on a leash even though there are whole mountainsides just outside the door.

I do not want to be pulling porcupine quills out of her muzzle with a pair of pliers as I did twice for our previous dog.


Meet the only dog in our family who has never caused any trouble. 

Her name is Gracie Giselle.  She, like Na'ilah, was a rescue.  

She is one pampered pup--a large wardrobe, numerous beds and indoor plush doghouses.

A stunning new hand-made party dress every Christmas.

She likes to be hand fed, kibble by kibble.

Sam's Career

My next-door neighbor says Sam also visited her backyard about three weeks ago.  

She heard barking, looked out, and saw an orange tabby there in front of her two large dogs.

After she called them in, the cat escaped.

Surely Sam.  

Apparently he has had an illustrious career of standing up to the dogs in the neighborhood.

Perhaps he died doing what he loved to do.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sam's Past

My neighbor, a nurse at a local hospital, arrives home from work at 3:30 pm while I'm outside.

"How's your day?" she asks casually.

"Not good," I answer.  

"Mine either!" she answers.  

We trade information.  When I tell her about Na'ilah's attack on Sam, she tells me about something that happened two weeks ago.

She got up in the wee hours of the night, as usual, to go to work.  

Lailah, their lovable pit bull, started barking and demanding to go out into the back yard--unlike her usual polite "Woof" to go out and do her business.

Diane let her out but noticed a big orange tabby running for cover under a wood platform.  She brought her dogs back in to let the cat escape and put them out again later when she left for work.

End of story.  

It had to be Sam, though Diane's home is two houses away from me, a total of four houses away from Sam's own back yard on the street behind our lots.

We exchanged histories about the possums, rats, cats, and birds the dogs have dragged in.  

Kujo is her current Rottweiler, but the previous one once brought her the leg of a cat.  Nothing more.  

Sam, you've been living on the edge all these years.  Game's up, unfortunately.

As for Diane's bad day, a patient died, a 65-year-old woman who had cardiac surgery this morning.  The woman had postponed it for a month, waiting for her daughter to be able to come down from Alaska.  

As T.S. Eliot wrote, "April is the cruellest month..."  
Requiem aeternam donat eis.

Strike Two

Guilty as charged.
Mug shot

Okay, Na'ilah, you have two strikes now.

What will we do if you attack a third cat?

Fortunately, your criminal record is not with the Animal Control office in Santa Monica and not with the SMPD.

At least we are neither legally nor financially liable for this one.

Morally, though, what did we do wrong?

I could have investigated more thoroughly after I found Na'ilah with her front half under the shed and her back end sticking out.  I could have kept her inside for an hour or two, giving whatever was under the shed a chance to leave the yard.

I could have run outside sooner, as soon as I heard the first bark.

John could have removed that shed full of rotting newspapers and rat turds, along with the rotting plywood platform it's sitting on.

I'd do it in a flash if I dared, but unilateral action like that would end our 42-year-old marriage instantly.

Fortunately, Na'ilah and I start an intermediate obedience class with Dorna Sakurai of Pawsitive Feedback in one week.

Proactive measures to take:
  1. Make sure that Na'ilah is never off-leash when in the front yard or on a walk
  2. Warn the neighbors across the street, who have a black cat, not to let their cat wander over in this direction.
  3. Put larger warning signs on our front gate.
  4. Put signs on our back fence, facing into the neighobors' yards?  
  5. Go knock on their doors and warn them?
  6. Make sure she is well-controlled around other dogs and around children--though she has never shown aggression against either.

R.I.P Sam

Na'ilah has blood on her paws today, and I have blood on my t-shirt.
Sam's last trip to the vet

Sam, the neighbors' orange tabby cat, rests in peace on their doorstep, decently covered.

Sam has been the neighborhood cat for years. Owned by a family on the next block over, he frequented all the back yards on the south side of the street.

We should have put up a sign on our back fence that read "Beware of Rhodesian Ridgeback."  Not that Sam would have been able to read it.

Stormy and our previous dogs--Mocha and Corky--enjoyed barking at Sam but respected him.  After he jumped back up to stand on the fence, they were content.

I haven't seen Sam in our yard since we got Na'ilah six months ago.  

Today is beautiful and sunny after rain yesterday.  I walk Stormy and Na'ilah before eating breakfast, and apparently Sam takes advantage of their absence to do a little marking or exploring.

Afterward I'm cleaning up the poop of the last 24 hours and notice Na'ilah's rear end and back paws sticking out from a hole in the foundation of a shed in the back yard.  I realize she's after some animal under there but assume it's a squirrel, possum, raccoon or rat.  I haul her away from the shed, lay a section of wire fencing over the hole, and go into the house.

I hear some barking and figure Na'ilah's having a conversation with some dog on the other side of the fence, though she's usually a quiet dog.

But suddenly I hear the snarling of a cat.  I run to the back yard and find Na'ilah with her jaws clamped on a big orange tabby.

"No! No!" I shout.  "Drop it!  Leave it alone!"

I grab her collar and she releases the cat, who falls on the ground and remains lying there.

I haul Na'ilah thirty yards across the grass and onto the back porch.  She won't let me drag her into the house.  She keeps turning her head to go back to the cat, but I wrap one arm around her middle and succeed in getting her inside. 

Snatching a towel from the cleaning closet, I run back to the cat, who is still lying there but moving.  It's the cat who has been hanging out in our yard for years.  All the neighbors know him.  

He lets me pet him, and I lift him onto the towel, then run to the front yard to put him in the car.

As I'm banging on the front door for John to bring my car keys and purse, Sam releases a long moan.  His last words.

Like an ambulance driver, I race five blocks to the Kenneth Jones Animal Rights Hospital and park on the red curb in front.

I lift Sam on his towel in my arms and run inside shouting "Emergency! My dog attacked this cat!"

Immediately they admit us to an examination room, and I'm thinking the cat can be saved, just like the previous one that Na'ilah attacked on Thanksgiving.

After examining him, however, Dr. Ramona Forelle soon pronounces the cat dead.  
Rest in peace, Sam.

We look at the tag on his collar, which has a phone number and the name Sam, which I recognize.

Sadly I carry the towel with Sam in it back to the car, thinking the owners probably would rather see him than just hear a report that he was DOA at the vet's office.  

I drive home to get my cell and sit in the car as the owner's phone rings.  A woman answers it.

"Is this the owner of a cat named Sam?" I ask soberly.  

"Yes," she says.  

"I'm sorry to tell you that my dog attacked your cat this morning in my back yard, and the vet pronounced him dead.  I'll bring him to your house if you tell me the address."

"Oh, I'm in the hospital," she answers.  "I just delivered.  But I'll tell my mom.  Her name is Pat.  What's your name?"

"My name is Anne.  I'm so sorry to tell you this."

"These things happen," she says.

We hang up, and I drive around the corner to her address.  As I ring the doorbell, a big orange tabby emerges out of some bushes, startling me.

I worry about the safety of Sam's remains with other animals around, so I walk around to the back door and lay him down there on his towel.  I leave a note.

As I'm leaving, someone drives up but it turns out to be the dog walker.  I explain to her, and as soon as I say "Rhodesian ridgeback," she understands.  

Then a youngish man drives up, and I explain to him but he's already been told.  I apologize but he's not angry at me.

"It happens," he says.  

Back home, Roz tells me that 
I have blood on my t-shirt.

A sad day.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Friends from Twitter

Rescuing Rhodesian ridgebacks is a normal thing to do, apparently.  

I'm not the only one.

People tweet about it and post photos.

Marci Liroff, for example, tweeted this stunning photo of her 10-year-old ridgeback:  Embedded image permalink

I'm now following her: @marciliroff

That could be Na'ilah in that picture.  Identical dogs.  Big and sweet.

I had no idea when I picked up Na'ilah on that rainy day in the Arizona desert that she was anything but a stray.  

I just saw her standing on a large flat chunk of red sandstone in the distance and thought:  "What a noble looking dog--all alone out here in the desert in the rain.  Whose dog is it?  Why is it out here?"

And from that moment on, things just happened.