Tag Archives: Pax

Happy birthday, Pax!

My dearest Pax is 10 years old! The pups in his litter were born during the late night hours of Oct. 8, 2001, into the early morning hours of Oct. 9. Not sure which day is his official birthday. This picture was taken that very first day. He was the blue collar black boy — I think that’s him on top of the pile.

Here he is on day 3. I find it hard to believe he was ever this tiny.

In the litter, he was the first boy to open his eyes, and he was the most adventurous of the black boys when they were taken out of the whelping room for the first time. Here he is exploring the deck on his first trip outside.

Their whelping room became a playground as they got a little older. I love this picture of him napping under a ramp.

I fell in love with him as soon as he came home. My beloved Great Pyr, Satch, passed away one month after Pax came home. I think he had been waiting for me to have another heart dog, and Pax most definitely was that. He would crawl into my arms to sleep, and it just melted my heart. He bonded to me as closely as I bonded to him. Jay and my friend Debi tried to give me a break one night so I could get some uninterrupted sleep. Pax climbed over a baby gate and lay in my discarded clothes until Jay came up and put him in bed with me. He curled up against my stomach and was instantly asleep.

He has slept at my feet nearly every night since. (Except when we travel. If we stay in a motel with two queen-sized beds in the room, he claims one and sleeps with his head on the pillow and legs stretched out to take up as much room as he can.) In the mornings, he crawls up to the top of the bed and snuggles with me. It’s my favorite time with him.

Pax means “peace,” and he lives up to his name. I call him my Gandhi-dog, but the name isn’t really right. He doesn’t like to fight, but if he’s forced into one, he doesn’t back down. He and Aslan got into two big fights, and both times he kicked Aslan’s butt. (Much to Aslan’s dismay and mortification.) Those are anomalies though. He is a gentle, peaceful, loving soul.

For the longest time, he was ageless. Six, seven, eight… no one could believe his age. So young and energetic, such a delightful personality. But then the years began to show. He has cataracts now, and his hearing isn’t what it used to be. We keep a close eye on his health, and so far, so good, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t worry me. His father lived to be 13, and that suddenly feels so close. I want to freeze time, to keep him here right now, healthy and happy and with me. But I can’t. All I can do is cherish every minute I do have with him.

I love you, my dearest boy. You are the best part part of my heart.

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And time marches on….

Fall has fallen in our little corner of the Pacific Northwest. I’m a southern transplant, and though I’ve lived here for more than 13 years, I’m still surprised when the season changes in September instead of late October. Of course, I should be equally surprised that summer arrives in July rather than April or May.

Here, Fall means the return of cool weather and rain. The maples, oddly, start turning in early June, but most trees start their transformation now, in early October. Not much color yet. Not sure we had enough extreme temperature this year to kick off a big color show. Summer was shorter and cooler than usual. The few warm weeks we had were stunningly perfect, but there weren’t many of them. Those native to the area tend to crave those hot, over 90* days, and probably feel they didn’t get any summer at all.

No big updates for the Alexander family. Work has been steady for both of us. Jay played manager for a month while the senior managers were on vacation, and he hated every minute. Neither of us likes that particular career path. The dogs are doing fine, all healthy and happy. River is still torturing his siblings, but he is such a delight it’s difficult to be upset with him. Pax and Pflouff are happy, contented dogs, but River is the living embodiment of JOY. It’s impossible not to fall in love with him. Just seeing him makes me smile.

Life on the farm has been uneventful. Blue and Guin are down in Olympia, rather than here at the house. Blue, in fact, is no longer mine. He officially belongs to his 13-year-old soulmate, Heidi. They are amazing together, and I can’t imagine a better home-for-life for him. Guin doesn’t like to be alone, so rather than keep her here, she’s living a happy retirement and being spoiled by children who like to comb her long mane and tail. Without the horses, the farm is considerably less chaotic. I raised a small vegetable garden with sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Corn too, but it didn’t do so well up here on the ridge. I planted roses too.

We haven’t done any work on the house yet this year, but Jay is anxious to start on the basement. We’re planning to gut it, floor to ceiling, so we can redo the electrical, add heat and air between stories, update plumbing if necessary, and move walls around. We’re going to move the stairs around too, which will probably be the most expensive part of the process — and definitely the most inconvenient. Not sure what we’re going to do with the basement floor, but I’m determined to get the leak fixed!

I’ve been working on my novel. Slowly. But positive, forward progress. I like it, and I’m determined to get it finished. In the meantime I’m living vicariously through my dear friend Sharon Fisher whose first book, Ghost Planet, will be published by Tor in November 2012. I’m beyond excited for her. She deserves every bit of her success (and I highly recommend the book!).

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Some pictures for your viewing pleasure

River had a play date this weekend, but I totally forgot to bring along my camera. Too bad, because Jake — a 15- or 16-week-old Daschund — is totally adorable, and they had a great time together. Then Mr. River settled in his crate and chewed a chewie while I got a facial. What a lovely afternoon!

In lieu of pictures of puppies playing, here are a few of my own brood I shot in the last couple of days. I really love this first one.

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Who’s training who? (or “How I taught my dogs to give them a cookie for eating breakfast”)

Long ago, we used to let the dogs out into the front yard — the area between the dog fence and the road — for a good airing after meals. At the time, the area was *mostly* dog fenced, but there was an area, if the dogs ran to the northeast side and allll the way down the length of the dog fence, where they could get into the horse pastures.

With Pax or Rain, this was never a problem. Great recalls. Heck, I can call Pax off a deer. (Or at least I could in the past. Been a long time since I tested that.) Aslan was another story. There was a certain imaginary line on the way to the horse pasture. If I called him before he got to that line, he would come back. If not, he was gone. And gone meant gone. Over half our property is populated with thick woods and swamp (and various wild animals), and once there, he had no desire to come back to the boring people and the irritating fence.

So every day (weather permitting, which means it wasn’t every day, but this is my story and every day sounds better) we would let the dogs out to have a good run. The area in the front of the house is big, and since the horses occupied it occasionally, it always had lots of fun things to smell and entertain them. They would play for five minutes, and then I’d call them in with the never-fail recall word: “Cookies!” The dogs would RUN back to the house, and we’d have a ritual handing out of their favorite cookies as a reward for the lovely recall.

This was a great ritual until Aslan ran away once too often. (It was probably the time he ended up in the middle of the swamp at laste dusk, and Jay not only had to crawl through a dark swamp to find him, but then we had to lift the muddy smelly [giant] dog over the fence to get him home.) I declared that he would never, ever have free run of the front area again.

And he didn’t.

But somehow the cookie tradition didn’t change. The dogs would eat their meals, go out to pee, and then come back and demand cookies. And I… gave them to them. Eventually, smart dog that they are, they skipped the whole go out for a pee part, and simply demanded their cookies at the end of their meal.

And that’s how my dogs trained them to give them cookies for eating breakfast.

Things are better with River. Starting Wednesday night, things got really, really hard. He wanted nothing to do with that new crate, so sleep-time became protest time. I’m working a lot of hours, and I just can’t handle significant lack of sleep. On top of the sleep issues, the housetraining took about a dozen steps back. It seemed no matter how hard I tried to watch him, how many gates I set up to keep him contained, he was peeing and pooping everywhere but outside. That last straw was the lake he peed in my bed at 2:30 Saturday morning. I broke down. I’d had it.

Jay is the best husband in the world. He had a doctor appointment on Saturday morning, but when he got back, he took over puppy duty. Really took over. He watched River with 100% focus. He made sure River went potty outside every time and was rewarded mightily for it. I went back to bed and slept, Pax curled up beside me. (Pflouff takes care of River, and Pax takes care of me.) In the afternoon, after my nap, he and I took turns with the puppy. I have a big project due Monday morning, and without complaining, Jay took more than his share of puppy time so I could work. When he wasn’t watching the puppy, he was running errands — like driving to town to bring back Mexican food for me.

He’s the best. Really. (Did I mention that he’s doing all this while SICK?)

By the end of yesterday, I was feeling a lot better. I had slept. I had accomplished a fair amount on my project. River had had no potty accidents in the house. We had even done a few (very successful) training sessions. But I dreaded nighttime. I knew we would be back to screaming in the crate and no sleep.

But it was perfect. It was like the prior three nights had never happened. He barely whined, even when brought in after peeing in the middle of the night. He slept in the crate until 6:30, then came up on the bed and let the family doze (more or less, as much as possible with a shark in the bed) until 7:30. And the morning has been easy since.

Do I think our problems are past? No. Tomorrow Jay will be back at work, and I expect the backslide in housetraining will begin anew. But maybe he’ll surprise me. All I can do is take it a day at a time. Puppyhood *does* pass, and soon I’ll wonder where my baby went.

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Day 4

Today was Pax’s turn at the vet. We got a “senior” package for him this year that included x-rays and a teeth cleaning. Since I’m home on vacation, I figured this was a good time to get that done.

His teeth and x-rays were terrific, but they found a couple of weird things. First, he had infections in both ears. Now, before you think I’m a horrible pet parent, he showed ZERO sign. No scratching, head shaking, sensitivity — not even a weird smell in his ears (and yes, I do check). Not only were his ears infected, but they were impacted with hair! Icky. They did a deep cleaning and said he never showed any signs (head shaking, sensitivty, etc.) even after that!

Second, when they went in to clean his teeth, they found two long gouges in his tongue — also impacted with hair. How gross is that? The vet said that he probably cut his tongue on a bone or a sharp chewy, and then got hair stuck in it when licking himself. He grooms himself a lot, so I can totally see that. Still… oogie.

He’s home now, and sleeping. He hasn’t eaten yet or showed interest in anything except sleeping. Poor guy.

River had a hard day too. He fell on his head — twice! Let’s not go into these bad parenting moments. Sigh. (He’s fine.)

His day wasn’t a total loss though. With Pax at the vet, River finally got some quality time with Pflouff. They’re not playing, exactly, but there’s definite positive interaction. Lots of it, actually. Wish I had pictures, but I drained the camera battery last night.

The only problem is that Pflouff plays really rough, so I kept having to shut her down (by cautioning “gentle”). Her play style is very physical — lots of body slams, jumping and punching with the feet. She jumped at River twice and scared him. He’s just not up for that kind of play yet. She outweighs him… just a little bit. 😉

What did we train today? Mmmm… mostly I did sessions with the target from the Manners Minder. I LOVE that target. Being able to send him out to a target will be critical in teaching him handling for blinds in field work, so I wanted to get a jump on it. I also did a few reps of sit in heel position, some informal puppy recalls, and a few puppy retrieves with stuffed toys.

Housebreaking is going fabulously. Really, really well. (I have to get my brags now, because next week when I have to go back to work, all this early work will go to hell in a handbasket.) We have a VERY high success rate outside. Whenever I see him get distracted and start sniffing, I scoop him up and carry him outside. The only mistakes have come when I’m distracted — hence the reason things will go badly beginning next week! A couple of times he has even gone to the door to let me know he’s thinking about going outside. Good boy!

To be clear, though, at this point, he is NOT housebroken, and the success is due much more to my vigilence than his bladder control. He is learning to hold it, but that’s a relatively new conscious capability for him, and it will be a while before he gets it all figured out. In the meantime, it will be up to me to ensure he experiences success outside, not inside.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures today. Hopefully I can get a picture of the dogs together tomorrow. I’d like to get some video too. Wonder if my camera is charged up…?

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