The Fence Wars

We are in the midst of a full-blown battle waging on 3 sides of our home.

Private Pongo instigates battles with our neighbors’ dogs on a daily basis, and sometimes vice versa: they instigate wars with him.  It’s gotten to the point where he has pretty much lost all privileges to go out potty like a big boy should be able to. Instead, Lieutenant General Mama and General Papa have to pull on the snow boots, leash Private Pongo up and take him out potty each time. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and let’s not forget COLD!

Lieutenant General Mama schemed up a plan this past fall to block off access to the back fence, where the action is most frequent. As you can see…mission failed.

IMG_1881So today, Lieutenant General Mama launched Operation Squelch: install a stronger fencing, that cannot be run through like a finish-line ribbon.  The fencing was erected in the back corner and along the side fence, where Private Pongo likes torpedo over to when he hears, smells, or senses the neighbor’s gorgeous husky is out.

IMG_1951 IMG_1950 IMG_1952Besides putting up new fencing, Lieutenant General Mama marched over to the neighbors, with the husky, waving the peace flag and ensuring them that we were working to get Private Pongo back onto the straight and narrow.  Private Pongo will be participating in some hardcore behavior boot camp, while Operation Squelch commences.

We can only hope that our trench lines hold fast and Private Pongo cools his jets when it comes to The Fence Wars.

Pongo’s Penthouse

The doggie daycare Pongo attends, Dog Tired Doggie Daycare, is celebrating the grand-opening of its newly renovated expansion on Monday.  We have all been waiting with bated breath for the renovations to complete so our pups can romp and play in a much larger space.  Along with the new expansion, comes naming the newly created rooms. Kari, the owner, sent out an email to parents today announcing the new room names. Each new room is named after a client of stellar attitude and behavior: Shadow’s Station, Susitna’s Suite and Sparky’s Spot.

Even though we all know Pongo can sometimes have those days of poo and be a grump, especially when Papa leaves for the field, he does have those sweetheart moments and can be such a ladies’ man at daycare.  Steve and I thought it would be very appropriate if an all girls’ room was created, with Pongo as the host.  It can be christened, “Pongo’s Penthouse.”

Pongo giving his new main squeeze, Maggie kisses and a thorough ear cleaning.

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Pongo hanging out froggy-style with his true love, Lhasa.

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Pongo shackin’ up with Olivia.

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Sitting cheek-to-cheek with his girl, Maggie.

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Pongo celebrating Valentine’s Day last year with Lhasa.

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The Screaming Monkey

Pongo received his all-time favorite Christmas gift this week.  Something that I think may eventually drive us batty but as long as it keeps him entertained, we’re good.

Besides the screaming monkey, Grandma Bev sent this amazing Christmas ornament…how did she know I was looking for Red Cattle Dog ornament but just didn’t find one I liked?  This is perfect!

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THANK YOU, GRANDMA BEV!!!

And All The Stockings Were Hung

Well, sort of…

I was excited to hang Pongo’s new stocking this year that my Mom and I worked so diligently on over Thanksgiving.  It was a melding of three creative minds (Steve gave his input throughout the process) and one expert seamstress (that would be my mom, not me) that brought into fruition Pongo’s new stocking.  I am very proud of how it turned out and love looking at it hanging on the stocking shelf.

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But, I really didn’t think about what it would be like decorating for Christmas this year until I actually started doing it.  As I pulled out the stockings to hang, I realized I am going to be hanging two less stockings this year.  I could feel the tears starting to weld up and a lump forming in my throat: Reid and Kona were not going to be here to celebrate Christmas with us this year.  In the span of a year, we went from six of us to just four of us.

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I am trying not to dwell on our losses this past year, as I know Christmas brought Reid so much joy and I need to hold onto those good memories as we celebrate this year.  And while the stocking shelf is less two stockings, I know someone is awfully excited about Santa coming and what surprises he may bring!

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Graceless

Pongo lives for the frisbee.  He loves chasing, leaping, flying, and retrieving that small green disc.  One of the activities we were hoping to do with our Cattle Dog was disc dog. We envisioned Pongo soaring through the air, jumping over our backs in pursuit of that frisbee.  We dreamed he would one day look like this…

5831198271_73f2936e48_bPongo’s able to catch some air and actually looks pretty good.

DSC_0159But, his landings leave something to be desired.  Pongo tends to land vertically, slamming down onto his back legs before the front even touch.

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There have been a few times he has landed with a yelp.  We’ve backed off on the high flying frisbee tosses but it seems injury has prevailed.

We knew something was up when Pongo started to refuse to jump up on our bed.  He would stand, staring longingly at the bed.  We would have to lift him up.  And when he did decide to jump, he would look at his back legs after the jump like something funny was going on back there.  There have been times when I’ve tried adjusting Pongo, while he’s laying on my lap, by scooting his back end and out came a yelp.

We took Pongo to the vet, who took x-rays and could only guess that there might be some calcification on a couple of his lower discs but the vet said that was a long-shot guess.  He prescribed some Rimadyl for Pongo, which I gave on occasion when he was going to be busy at daycare.

I wish Pongo could verbalize what hurts and where.  Instead, when I guess things are really hurting, he ends up picking fights with his doggie friends at doggie daycare.  That’s what happened on Thursday.  Miss Peg described his look that afternoon at daycare as “stricken.”  I would totally agree because he came home and crashed on the couch with a look of pure pain.

IMG_1816This boy is breaking my heart.  I don’t like to see him in pain and it worries me to have our 3 1/2 year old boy having back problems already!  On our way out of the daycare door, Miss Lindsay recommended a vet who does chiropractic and acupuncture work on animals, Dr. Palmatier at The Pet Stop.  I called immediately and was able to get him in the next morning (bless them!).

Dr. Palmatier took a look at Pongo’s x-rays, which he agreed didn’t tell us much.  He then did some chiropractic adjustments on Pongo’s back.  Poor Pongo wasn’t too sure about being manipulated like that.  If he only knew what was to come, he probably would have high-tailed it out of there!

The vet suggested that we try something called the Companion Therapy Laser.  It is a laser light that the vet rubs back and forth over the area that is injured.  The effect is much like acupuncture but without the needles.  It is supposed to help promote healing and provide pain relief.  We decided to give it a try because having Pongo pop a bunch of pills to manage his pain is not the avenue we want to be taking.

A small machine was rolled into the exam room, eye protection was handed out to the humans in the room (I think next time I’ll bring Pongo’s doggles), and 8 minutes was set on the timer.  EIGHT MINUTES?!?  You’ve got to be kidding!  Pongo can’t sit still for 2 minutes let alone 8 while someone is messing with him.  But, he was a trooper with Mama’s assistance.

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(Yeah, I know…I’m looking pretty darn sexy in those glasses!)

We have a couple more appointments for Pongo to receive the laser light therapy and get some chiropractic adjustments.  I just hope it helps our graceless but beloved boy!

Pongo’s Big Day

It’s been some time since I last blogged.  My shortfall in blogging can’t be correlated with a lack of excitement around Pongo because there is still plenty of that!  But, it has to do with my lack of time lately.  Sadly when life gets crazy, blogging is put on the back-burner.  I just couldn’t let today’s success of a day go by without sharing.  Today’s agenda included one of Pongo’s favorite things to do: Nose Work class and then a trip out to the Valley to visit Miss Sue and her crew.

We are in the process of getting ready for the NW2 (Nose Work 2) trial in May.  In NW2, the scent of anise is introduced.  There can be up to 2 hides of either birch or anise or one of each scent.  The dogs also have to work around distractions such as toys and concealed doggie snacks.  After the first couple of practices with toy and food distractions, Pongo has been a rock star about ignoring them and sticking to his job.  He loves his Nose Work job and we love watching the wheels turn as he tracks down those scents!

Photo courtesy of Mike Lewis

But, the biggest event of the day was going to visit Miss Sue and her crew of 5, yes you did read that right, 5 dogs.  Miss Sue and her husband, Ken are going to care for Pongo while we are cruising the Panama Canal later this winter.  Both Steve and I have some anxiety around doggie meet and greets when it comes to Pongo.  It can be hit or miss with him and we really wanted this to work.  We put our trust and faith into Miss Sue and Ken when it came to “the plan.”

When we arrived, there were five furry faces peeking at us from behind a gate.  My first thought was, “Holy crap!  That’s a lot of dogs!  How is this going to work?”  I quickly let that doubt go because I didn’t want Pongo picking up on my anxiety.  Steve and I went in the house, sans Pongo, to meet Ken and hear how they wanted the meet and greet to proceed.  The plan was to bring Pongo in and let him explore the house while the other dogs waited outside.  One by one, the dogs would then come in to meet Pongo.

Steve brought Pongo in, past the 5 dogs peeking at him through the gate with absolutely NO reaction, and unleashed him to explore.  And, explore he did!  His nose was working overtime as he took in the all the new smells.  He was very appropriate in meeting one of their two cats but was a little too interested in the parrot squawking at him from underneath a blanket covered cage.

Then it was time to meet the dogs.  The first meet and greet between Pongo and one of Miss Sue’s dogs went well.  He looked a little stressed but held it together.  Another dog was let into the house and that greeting went well too.  Steve and I did notice that Pongo’s stress level was rising some as he moved between greeting the dogs and checking in with us.  Steve and I decided it was best to take ourselves out of the equation so the final three doggie greetings would go smoothly.  We stepped outside and pressed our ears to the door, in hopes of catching tidbits of how things were going inside.  After a good 10 minutes of meeting everyone inside and then some playtime outside, we came to realize that all of our anxiety was unfounded; Pongo was going to be OK.

We learned that we have to trust the process and just do some legwork when it comes to Pongo meeting other dogs.  As much as I would love to be able to have him jump out of the car and walk into a house five dogs full, it just is not going to happen.  What works for some dogs, does not work for Pongo and dwelling on the “what ifs…” is not going to move us forward.  He is a unique little guy who filled our hearts with joy and made us so proud today!

And, all the excitement of today has left our sweet boy beyond exhausted!

Race To The Finish

I’ve really procrastinated on cleaning up the garden this year; I guess I was hoping that the longer I waited, the longer summer/fall would hang on.  I knew this weekend was it and I needed to get it done…but after a much needed afternoon nap.

When I woke up, ready to hit the yard work, I looked out the window and realized the clock was ticking.

I don’t think Steve nor I have ever moved as fast as we did to get the yard cleaned up and “winterized.”

A not-so-happy Steve having to rake wet, heavy leaves.

Pongo wasn’t much help.  His main objective for this afternoon was to play as much frisbee as possible.  He was intent on making sure that we knew that too as for each rake we made, we would find a frisbee in our way and a dog staring at us waiting…

Our last glimpse of summer past.

Atypical?

When researching Cattle Dogs, one may find the words “high energy” or “busy” or even “hyper” to describe them.  While Pongo can be a very busy boy, he is also one of the laziest Cattle Dogs I have come across.

Don’t get me wrong though…we love that he has a true “off” button!

One Last Hurrah

It’s that time again…when the dread starts mounting and the countdown begins.  I’m way past the countdown part though–I’m grasping at my final hours of summertime freedom. Yes sadly (at least for me), I head back to work tomorrow.  As usual, summer break has flown by; it feels like I just got out of school and now it’s time to go back.  Not a good feeling.

I wanted to make the most of today and the nice weather we had this morning, so Pongo and I walked the mile, from the Kincaid Chalet, down the Coastal Trail to spend some time at Kincaid Beach.  We were so fortunate in that we had the whole beach to ourselves!

Pongo enjoyed wrangling his log in and out of the water…

While Mama tried to capture a very distant Mount McKinley and Mount Foraker.

The frisbee came out and Pongo quickly discovered: sand + mud = one very nasty and dirty frisbee.

But he used his problem-solving skills and made sure that frisbee was clean each time he brought it back.

Washing off the frisbee though didn’t necessarily mean that Pongo also came out clean.

But we tried to rinse him off every now and then, too.

Pongo and I had a wonderful day at the beach-enjoying our last day of summer break!

Dog Jog

Anchorage’s 18th annual Friends of Pets Dog Jog took place yesterday.  And while Pongo is not quite ready to participate in the Dog Jog, I truly believe some day I will be running the trails with my sweet Cattle Dog pal by my side.

To get in some exercise before Steve and I stuffed ourselves at Kincaid Grill, an early anniversary celebration in case Steve is out of town on our true anniversary date: August 1st, Pongo and I decided to do our own Dog Jog yesterday…Pongo style.