Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning while sitting

The moon was high this morning and lots of dogs in the park so Zorro was in fine form. It's supposed to go up to the 90s today but the mornings are cool.
Denny had him in a sit while another dog went by and the owner asked, "Is this supposed to be a learning moment?"
I told Denny that he should have said, "Yes. I'm teaching my dog not to kick your dog's butt."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Crazy, not stupid

Our neighbor from across the road in Berkeley Springs died last week after a short illness. We were saddened and surprised by the news, since it was only a couple of weeks ago that we exchanged pleasantries as we edged around his truck on our narrow dirt road.
We went to the funeral yesterday and came away wishing we'd known him better. We knew that he played the organ at his church and played piano for some local productions. What we didn't know is that he played eight instruments--including the ukulele--and performed with jazz bands when he was still a teenager.
After the service, we introduced ourselves to his oldest daughter and told her we were his neighbors. After we described which house we live in, she said, "Are you the ones with the dog Dad used to call Big Stupid?"
Now we're trying to figure out which dog he was referring to. Snoop? Zorro? My dad suggested it could have been one of his dogs, since they often go over to his property to do their business.
Denny thinks he was referring to Zorro because of his habit of barking at the moon, fireworks and gunshots. Now we'll never get a chance to explain that Zorro isn't stupid, just crazy.
RIP Gordon LaTourette. A thoughtful neighbor and a good man.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unsettled skies

Not much to report. We are still enduring the hottest summer in memory, punctuated this week by violent thunderstorms. Zorro has spent a lot of time in the basement. But at least he seems to recover fairly quickly; last summer, he wouldn't venture far from the gate for days after a thunderstorm. Now, he'll venture all the way to Kensington and sometimes farther if there are other dogs around. I've reduced his Prozac dosage and plan to wean him off by the end of the summer.
He still barks and runs in circles every time our neighbor opens her squeaky screen door, but will stop if I tell him to sit and give him a treat. That's progress. The main problem I'm wrestling with is occasional and unpredictable blow-ups around other dogs. I wonder if I'm contributing to the problem by tensing up when I see another dog (especially a big dog) approaching. A guy pushing a stroller and pulling golden retriever passed us this morning and Zorro was fine.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Surviving the summer

Last weekend was the hottest we can ever remember in Berkeley Springs. High 90s on Saturday and not much of a cooldown at night. And as luck would have it, my parents came to visit, with their three dogs.
Fortunately, Zorro was a pretty good host: there were only a couple of dust-ups, and they were over quickly. Mostly, the dogs languished on the porch, along with the rest of us, trying to catch a breeze.
On Sunday, Denny and Zorro went home early, and that was a good thing. A quick, violent storm blew up shortly after Mom, Dad and Chip returned from their golf game. I was on the porch and heard a loud crack, then saw a flash of light not 50 yards from our house. Lightening struck one of our trees, tearing the bark right off of it. If Zorro had been there, I'm not sure he would have ever gotten over it.
Zorro continues to show self-restraint around most dogs we encounter on the running path. He's even made friends with a couple of small blue heelers we see most mornings. Their owner insists that Zorro is also a blue heeler. Rather than get into an argument over Zorro's heritage, I just nod and smile. Last week, she told me that if he acts up around dogs, I should just grab him, say ZZZT! and roll him over on his back. Sure, that'll work. She's obviously a Dog Whisperer devotee.