Tuesday, February 16, 2010

School Daze

Stella started Better Family Dog Manners class at Dogs and Kat, on Saturday. I'm already excited because this assumes that she has family dog manners to begin with. In eight weeks, we'll take the Canine Good Citizen test where she will no doubt add some new twist to that "Sit for a random stranger" routine they do. My friend Barney (the very friend who talked me into holding a fund-raiser for her second knee surgery) is officially her sponsor now. Someday I will tell you all a story about where he got the money to pay for her education but not today. She did pretty well on Saturday and I was happy to see that she isn't the biggest dog in class. There's a Great Dane named Hazel that's a year old and already stands something like five foot nine. There's also a Sheltie, a Shepherd mix, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, two matching Malteses, and Stella. It really seems like the perfect group to tell you the truth. A class picture would be priceless.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a new training leash. We graduated from a thirty to a fifty footer. It's sweet and a lot more durable than the last one. I like the added exercise not to mention the extreme happiness Stella gets from being able to run semi-free. I have to admit that the weather has made me slightly grumpy of late, but not her. She seems to have no concept whatsoever of frostbite or runny noses but I'm counting the days.

We also got our prizes in the mail last week from Koko's Pet Spa. Stella won third place (thanks to all of you dedicated voters) We haven't used the Vitamin Shower yet but it looks pretty cool and I'm sure it'll keep her skin soft and dandruff free. She doesn't have a big problem with that but the water here is laced with chemicals so it can't possibly hurt to filter them out. We gave the prize money ($50) to the Cheatham County Animal Awareness Foundation. She also won some treats, a boomerang-shaped fetch toy which she is totally excited about and a bath towel that is both useful and hysterical. Pictures to follow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowman Patrol

It's been exactly a week ago that four inches of snow fell on Nashville. We don't generally see a lot of snow and when we do it isn't usually enough to make a snowman although that doesn't discourage anyone from trying. Stella never saw one until last Saturday. By then the snow had frozen but on Friday night around ten p.m. she and I went out walking under the full moon. The full 'Wolf' moon no less. I tried to get her to howl but she wouldn't do it. It was wonderful fun. There was no threat of traffic; it was totally quiet. We ran up and down the backyard and slid down the street. We broke a weld on the buckle of her harness and didn't even notice it for two days.

When the surface froze on Saturday walking was more of a chore but that didn't stop Stella's efforts to run all those rogue snowmen out of town.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Charm School

Last Thursday Stella and I took neighbor Judy to see the doctor. Ordinarily we walk the fitness trail around the hospital while we're there but that day I decided we'd walk down the street to the bank instead. We're regulars in the drive through at my bank but we had never walked into the building together before that day. I knew there was a dog loving man in there; I sent a post card with Stella's picture on it to him before Christmas. He always sends out a dog treat in the tube with my receipt.

We approached the door to the bank and since I wasn't altogether sure that we'd be welcome I tried to make eye contact with someone early on. As I opened the first door I saw a lady inside and hesitating slightly, I pointed to Stella and then inside. Her eyes got big for a second but she didn't flinch or look horrified so we kept moving. When I opened the second door to the inside lobby people started standing up at their desks. They looked pleasantly surprised to see a dog but I was still kind of worried. I had a vision that we were about to be confronted and asked to leave in front of a crowd of people, several of whom were now standing in the lobby with us.

We took about four more steps and I heard this voice behind the counter say:

"Is that Stella?"

I couldn't believe my ears.

Another voice answered: "It is Stella."

"She's our drive-through customer."

Stella and I looked at each other, her tail wagging on that slow beat that says she's on her best behavior and I said "Stella — I think we're in."

Five minutes later, after a little treat and a big lovefest, she walked out with an invitation to come back anytime.

Apparently, her Christmas picture spent some time hanging in the drive through window.

Good girl.