18 July 2005
My morning began rather precipitously at 5 a.m. when Sheila began barking at something in the back yard. She was in the house, standing at the screen door and as I came awake, I was aware of two things simultaneously: She was barking, and I had forgotten to lock the dog door the previous night. We've been keeping the dogs inside until 7 a.m. or so because of neighbor complaints about barking (though Sheila really barks very little when compared to other dogs in the neighborhood--in fact, she rarely barks except when one of those other dogs sets her off).
I leaped out of the recliner just as Sheila whirled and headed for the dog door. It was going to be a race to see who could get there first. As I leaped, I became embarrassingly aware of the problems of the post middle aged bladder when first awakened. But I ignored that and headed for the dog door.
Sheila knew what I was trying to do and she was determined to beat me, but her paws began slipping on the Pergo and she couldn't get her footing. I had the advantage until she bumped into me, sending me crashing into the temporary CD case. I was afraid I'd cracked the wood, but apparently not.
Anyway, Sheila beat me to the door and slipped outside, I closed off the door, opened the screen door, called her back in and she came docilly, without ever having uttered a single bark.
Then I came in to check e-mail. The puppies were starting to wake up. They had spent the night in the bathroom, where I corral them by putting a board across the door and then a heavy milk carton up against the board to hold it in place.
I could hear them whimpering and I was going to feed them mash for breakfast, but hoped they could go a bit longer, until it was lighter (and later) so I could feed them outside and not worry about Sheila barking.
I continued to sit here checking e-mail and the usual morning web pages. Then I became aware of Sheila jumping in the family room, the sound she makes when she is crouching down to invite Kimba to play, only Kimba was asleep under my desk.
I got up and looked in the family room and to my astonishment, there were Harry and Hagrid waddling down the hall and into the family room! They had somehow managed to push the board back so they could squeeze out, and one of them had deposited a very large bowel movement on the Pergo. The squealing I had been hearing was Weasley, who hadn't been able to figure out how to follow them.
Clearly it was time for breakfast, so I chose to feed them inside.
Whereas yesterday, they were inept and uncomfortable eating solid food, the difference 24 hours made was amazing. They leaped into that pie plate (literally) and went to it as if they'd been eating solids forever.
When the food was finished, Harry was still wimpering, though, so I decided to give him some formula too, which was good because he still needs to suck a lot. He ate about half as much formula as usual and then fell asleep in my lap. It had been my intention to give some formula to the other two as well, but by the time Harry fell asleep, they were quiet, and you know what they say about sleeping dogs.
The puppies were not happy yesterday afternoon and I didn't know why. They'd all been fed. Their bedding had been changed, but they didn't stop crying.
I reasoned that they are getting older now and they wanted more adventure; it was logical that they weren't going to be spending all of their non-eating hours asleep any more. They are also larger than when they arrived and while there is still ample room in the kennel, their only goal is to get out and they were not happy being locked behind bars.
So I decided to take them for their first big trip outside. They'd been outside the day before to eat, but they hadn't really been on the grass yet. It had also cooled off a bit so I didn't cringe at the thought of going out into the heat.
I decided to bring the whole cage outside. I'm not sure why. Lack of brains, I guess. But I struggled with the cage and got it outside on the lawn and then opened the door.
"Free, guys! You're free!"
They were very tentative about it, sniffing that green stuff suspiciously but in time both Hagrid and Harry made their way onto the weeds and began to walk around.
Weasley never did come out, but finally fell asleep. The other two walked around sniffing and sniffing and sniffing.
Sheila was absolutely amazing. She gets better and better with each batch of puppies. She seems to know intuitively how rough she can be with each set. With these guys, she came down to the grass, sniffed each of them gently and checked out Weasley in the kennel. It was really very sweet to watch how carefully and gently she lifted up her feet and put them down again, careful not to step on a puppy, how slowly and cautiously she moved.
When she was convinced that things were OK, she went to her perch on top of the discarded rugs from the family room, rolled up on the patio, and lay there with that big Sheila-grin on her face and just watched.
Eventually they started falling asleep on the ground and the mosquitoes were starting to come out. They have discovered West Nile Virus in some animals here and we've all been warned to be careful of mosquitos, so I decided it was time to come back in again and carted the kennel back inside.
As soon as we got inside, the puppies began to yelp again and I finally
decided they must be as hot as I was. They were wearing fur coats, after
all. So I took them all and put them in the bathroom. It took roughly 10
seconds from the time their bodies hit the cold linoleum until they fell asleep and they
weren't heard from again until they waddled out of the room at 6 a.m. this morning.
PHOTO OF THE DAY