Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oji Tails

I got an email from my old friend LT, one of our regulars, calling for more stories about Oji. So, in an attempt to indulge her, here we go.

Oji Goes to the Country. We decided to take a weekend for ourselves about a month ago, and headed up the road toward Austin. Melody had Googled around for a while to find a dog-friendly getaway, so we were going to spend the weekend at the Decker Creek Bed and Breakfast and Biscuits. It's a nice little place run by Pat and Byron Rathbun who have 50 acres or so of woods, fields and creek as well as two cute cabins that they rent out.

We drove up there after work one Friday night, getting there at about 9 PM (it took us a while to get on the road...Heaven help us once we have a child in a couple of months. We'll never get anywhere). We met up with Pat and Byron, got the key to the cabin, and drove through the woods to get there. As soon as we'd moved everything inside, I took Oji out to the fenced in back yard, keeping him on the leash so I could make sure that the fence did indeed look secure. I walked the perimeter with him, and, satisfied, I let him off the leash and went back inside.

A few minutes later, I went out to call him back inside. I could hear him walking around up the hill, but couldn't see him. The jingle of his collar got louder as I could hear him coming down, but still, I couldn't pinpoint his location. Jingle jingle...jingle sounded like it was off to the left, by the fence. Then, I saw a shadow walk by. Outside. The. Fence.

In my stocking feet, I ducked back inside, grabbed my shoes, a flashlight and the leash, and headed out the front door. Now, I couldn't see or hear him, and I thought to myself, "Great. Black dog. Dark, moonless night. 50 acres of unfamiliar woods. This is perfect." It took about 15 minutes before I was able to figure out where he was, and then another 10 to get close enough to get the leash on him. We still need to work a bit more on the "Come" command.

So, the next morning, we decided to take him with us to breakfast. Pat and Byron had encouraged us the night before, because they have a couple of dogs as well. So, we did. And not 10 seconds after having been let in to their beautiful house complete with antique breakfast table, Oji went and marked the table leg. I apologized profusely, and cleaned it up with paper towels. They were very understanding. This of course is not the first time Oji has introduced himself this way, as I'm sure loyal readers will remember our trip to the dog park. We're not trying to encourage such behavior.

Later on that afternoon, Oji and I went for a walk around the premises, and made a wrong turn, ending up on the neighbor's property where there were some horses. I'm pretty sure that Oji has never seen horses before, and he was fascinated by them, and they by him.

We had a nice walk, though, and were thoroughly pooped by the time we returned. We both had a big drink and a nap.

Relocatables. We just moved into some new office space in what they call "Relocatables." Basically, that's a fancy (and according to my spell checker a made-up) word for "Trailer Park." We have ninetuplewide that is definitely something you'll want to stay away from during tornadoes. Especially since we have no chickens to hang on to (obscure David Brenner comedy act reference - "Did you ever notice that after some tornado out in the midwest, you can have an entire town destroyed, but the chickens are still wandering around as if nothing ever happened? You can just hear the cows saying, 'Tornado's coming!! Hang on to a chicken!!' ").

Anyhow, before I discovered the relocatable that I work in, I took the term to mean that which we find upon coming home has been relocated from its original location, like Melody's slippers which usually live in the bathroom, and we find under the television. Or, Oji's bed, which usually stays right by the foot of ours, but sometimes is found in the kitchen. We've also found our dog likes to relocate himself.

Like for instance just last night, while I was brushing my teeth. Normally, he is fascinated by bathroom activities. If you leave the door open, you get a spectator watching your every brush, floss, scrub or other type of body maintenance. It's a little bit weird. Last night, though, I looked down to where he normally sits in the doorway, and he was gone. I figured he'd gone out to see his Mom, still watching TV. When I came out, I saw a black bundle curled up on the bed, right next to my John McCain book and a load of clean laundry. It was our beloved beast, making himself comfortable. It was so cute, I couldn't be angry...instead, I took a photo with my cell phone.

Friday after work, I found him on the couch, and on our blue chair today. My previously non-dog-fan mother-in-law said, "Oh, just let him get up there. He's just trying to see what it's like!" This from a woman who was none to pleased that we were even getting a dog. Now, though, she's like the doting grandmother. Quite the transformation!

Oji's New Friend. Recently, Melody's cousin moved into town. It turns out that she was hired by our Veterinarian's office to be a third doctor there. We had no idea that she was coming, and she didn't know we were in town until her mom told her. It's been fun having some family nearby, though.

Along with Vicki came Rohan, her 2.5 lb Yorkie. The first time she came to our house, she brought him along. I took Oji outside to meet him in the street to try to minimize any Alpha Dog seemed to work pretty well, just like on that Cesar Milan's show. So now, Oji's got a little cousin. They get along fine so far. Oji at first didn't know what to make of this squirrel sized creature who was nibbling on his dinner, drinking his water, and sniffing his junk. After a time, they both loosened up a bit, and began playing chase around the house. Oji will paw at his smaller buddy, and Rohan will jump up and try to bite Oji's face. Friday night as we were eating, they were chasing each other around the dinner table. Rohan would hide beneath chairs where Oji had a hard time reaching him...they had us in stitches. We're glad that Oji's got a little friends to hang out with, as the only other doggy interaction is on walks or at school, and that mostly is him barking at the other students. We're so proud.

Actually, though, he has been doing pretty well at school. He was one of only 2 dogs (Fred the Puggle is the other) who were asked to continue their schooling at the intermediate level. So, we're going to continue for another 8 weeks. He's not perfect, and I don't dare let him off leash just yet, but we're getting better.

Craxtra. Routine dental care is difficult for dogs. To clean their teeth, they actually have to get put to sleep (anesthesia, not the Big Sleep...). So, lots of products are out there to try to minimize tartar buildup, ranging from toothpaste that tastes like meat, to chew toys, to "greenies" and our personal favorite, Hextra. Hextra is a rawhide-like substance that is impregnated with an antibiotic called CET. It's tough, and the chewing plus the CET stuff apparently works wonders to keep the dog's teeth nice and clean.

The way Oji reacts to his daily Hextra is really funny, and has made me call it "Craxtra" because it seems to be addicting. Oji gets a big doggy smile, and his tail starts wagging in excitement. Once he gets it, he savors it for a moment, and then runs into every room of the house tossing it up into the air and catching it in his teeth before settling in one place to gnaw away at it. Depending on the thickness, it can take him up to half an hour of ecstatic chewing before it's gone.

Oji is kind of like our "practice baby." Having a dog is definitely like having a kid with training wheels. You learn a lot when you have responsibility for another being that requires food, and potty breaks, and naps...even if that being has four legs and a fuzzy face. When you look down to see that fuzzy face staring up at you with the look that says "I love you! Take me out so I can pee all over the neighborhood!", your heart just melts with love. When he gets so excited because he recognizes that me putting on my walking shorts and socks, it's just too cute. He starts running back and forth before leading me to the door, looking over his shoulder with every step to make sure that I'm right behind. Adorable.

You also learn patience, as you stand in the rain with him trying to find just the right place to pee or make a poop.

But, it's all worth it. I just wonder though, if I'm this bad with a dog, how will I be with the fruits of my own loins? We'll find out in December...Do they make Hextra pacifiers?

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