Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sick as a Dog

As we learn about life with our little dog, two things have become quite clear:

1)  She doesn't like fine cheeses
2) She doesn't like to dance to Bjork too soon after breakfast

We found out both these facts the hard way:  first off, Mitzie managed to grab a shrink-wrapped $12 piece of Chevre from our shopping bags on Saturday and 10 minutes after poking her snout into it and having a good lick, we were cleaning up the aftermath...  Clearly she is NOT a fan of fine cheeses.

Then this morning, I got over-excited reminiscing about my clubbing days when Bjork's 'Big Time Sensuality' came on VH1... Mitzie tried to keep up with my high energy dancing until 'blurgh,' her breakfast came back onto the sofa.  Maybe it was a comment on my dancing.  Or Bjork's outfit.  Or both.  Either way, there will be no more dancing til breakfast is well digested.

She does seem to like to eat the strangest things though; her favourite on Saturday morning?  Horse poop.  And of course, she'll come and give you a kiss on your face straight afterwards.... It's a wonder we are not riddled with all manner of disease.  Who knows, we could be.  I'm sure we will find out at some point... or we will become so immune to everything that we'll never get sick here again.  Let's hope for the latter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Poops and Pooped

I am exhausted!!!  Just over two weeks into being a puppy momma and I am shattered.  Not sure if it's the combo of non-stop nannying, or a bit of a heavy partying weekend, but I am wiped out.  Also, the stress of our neighbors is taking its toll and I'm wondering whether they are involved in the disappearance of three pairs of our shoes from outside our front door...  It's very Indian to leave your shoes outside the door, and given that we are walking our dog outside in the mud on the non-existent road, it's actually a necessity that we don't come in the house in them.  So, yesterday lunchtime I was a little shocked to see two pairs of sneakers and one pair of birkenstocks had gone!  Of course, housekeeping (the ladies who clean the stairs and take the trash out) claim they weren't there when they came around in the morning; they were, everyone saw them (me, Tom, driver, neighbor) and security hadn't seen them... Security also haven't noticed the three times previously that our driver has had his fuel pipe cut and the petrol drained from his bike...  The building manager did make me feel better by saying that if the company paid for better security, we wouldn't have this issue.  THAT'S reassuring.  I'm not sure which is worse - having a thief in the building OR handling somebody's passive aggressive behaviour against us...

On the Mitzie front, things are progressing nicely... one or two minor set backs (little parcels in strange places...) but she is getting to grips with 'sit' and 'come' but is a terror on her leash.  She was good at Tara's party on Sunday, but got VERY territorial when any other dogs came near, even though it was their house!!!  And she hates kids.  They're ok while they're petting her, but then they start to tease and mess about and a little growl turns into a snap... we have to watch her closely around little ones.  Or avoid them altogther!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Walk of Shame

It is quite ironic that as our neighbors demand that we walk Mitzie outside the apartment complex, this article appears in the Times of India about our very neighborhood.... Couple this with the 25,000 stray dogs in Bangalore, the majority of which seem to live nearby, and you'll understand why walking your dog outside is NOT a pleasant experience!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Bitch is Back

As anyone will tell you, I'm a very reasonable person (ahem) but can hold an argument with the best of them, even if my position is tenuous to stay to the least.  That's why I'm relishing the residents' meetings at our apartment complex next week...  Since learning that a couple of people 'complained' that we had a dog in the building - which is completely within the rules - and getting a copy of the rule book handed to me, I spoke with the secretary (I'm not giving it an upper case S) of the residents' committee to address her concerns.  She launched into me with a tirade of comments, mainly aimed at the fact that the building manager doesn't follow the rules and we should not have the dog in the 'common areas.'  In a nutshell, we're allowed to have the dog but not take her on the landscaped areas or the kids' play area; no problem.  We can, however, walk any pet (iguana, elephant, dog, or cat) around the periphery of the building, which in our case is a driveway.  She didn't seem to know that.  Nor did she seem to agree with it.  Tough.  They're your rules, baby, and if you don't like it, it's your own doing.  By the end of the conversation, my wily PR ways and sugary sweet apologies for not having known the rules had got her onside, but you knew it wasn't going to go away.

Fast forward a few days, I am exercising my dog - and my prerogative - around the 'periphery of the building' and who announces herself to me, but ms secretary.  'So, you've decided to walk your dog around here...'  I was all polite and very happy to reiterate the rules to her and remind her that I was doing nothing wrong.  In fact, many of their 'rules' area quite blatantly ignored, particularly where kids are concerned, but I guess the dog threw them, as no-one has had one here for four years, as I keep being reminded.  She advised me that she'd had now two complaints - I'm not sure if complaints are just calls, whatever - about the situation and that it would be raised at the, wait for it, AGM on August 30th.  What a great opportunity for me to get up and have a good old fashioned argument with a bunch of people who clearly don't know their own rules, hate confrontation (hence her blaming the building manager when I called her), and can't make a decision to save their lives.  Excellent.  

While chatting to the frosty cow, sorry, secretary, a half dozen squealing infants on bikes came tear-arsing past us on the driveway, as if to illustrate my next point, 'well,' I said, 'the rules quite clearly state that kids shouldn't ride cycles or rollerskates on the driveway, but they do....'  I'm not sure when the rules were written, but clearly rollerskates were in and skateboards were a thing of the future...  

She invited me to attend the meeting - well, I couldn't refuse - and I was quick to call the building manager to check the time it started, and add on four hours for the usual tardiness of people.  He already knew that it was on the agenda as 'secretary' had called him yesterday.  I haven't told him yet that she blames him for not explaining the rules thoroughly - but I will, eventually, to get him more onside - but I did raise a few issues of my own with the rules, for example, they state that pets can't go in the lift, but the four times a day that I carry Mitzie up and down the stairs, I nearly have an accident over the multitude of bikes stored in the stairwells.  Surely that's a fire hazard!!!  

And there are more, don't even get me started on the rule that states your laundry shouldn't be hung in public view... hello, THIS IS INDIA! Laundry is EVERYWHERE on public view.

The building manager is going to call her again, but I reckon he's got no balls and she will eat him for breakfast; he was quite keen to get me to speak directly with her the other day, proving that point.  I have many aces up my sleeve, and one I shared with the building manager when he told me that most Embassy properties DON'T allow dogs... Erm, well my friend, the OWNER of the company, lives in an Embassy property AND has dogs AND walks them round the building AND I'm quite sure he doesn't take the stairs... SILENCE.

On a more positive note, having Mitzie has made me realize how nice it would be to live in a little house with a picket fence where I could walk freely outside without being chased by packs of wild dogs, sink up to my knees in mud on an unpaved road, or get accosted by frosty cows with nothing better to do that recite, incorrectly, the rule book.  So, we are looking to move to a 'gated community,' and I shudder when I say this because for the last nearly three years I have been denegrading people who do, labeling them as 'softies' who don't want to see the real India.... Ok, so maybe I'm a softie now.  I may draw the line at Palm Meadows, which is the ultimate Floridian living on the outskirts of Bangalore, complete with all mod cons, supermarkets, restaurants, and so much that you literally NEVER need to leave.  But it would be nice to have a little two up, two down, for the bitch and us.  

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cloudy Day Over Cloudy Bay

On a very sombre note, I learned today that a wonderful guy called Dave Freeman had passed away at the weekend.  Dave and I met through Fiona and had a mad couple of days in Mumbai together which included the now legendary evening that saw us polish of five bottles of extremely-expensive-in-India-imported-New-Zealand-wine Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc ($750 please!) BEFORE heading off in a desperate search for more booze!  Oh, and food; we forgot to eat...

I was not a big part of Dave's life, nor did we spend a great deal of time together, but the time we did have was filled with friendship, laughter, joy, adventure, and a sense that all was well in the world.  Dave once published a book, 100 Things to Do Before You Die.  Knowing him for the brief time I did, I have no doubt he did them all, and probably with a glass of Cloudy Bay in his hand.

Whine and Wine

I am sitting here exhausted sipping a nice glass of red at the side of Mitzie's crate after chasing her around the living room for the last hour removing anything and everything from her mouth... iPod case anyone?  Tupperware container?  Bag of sneakers?  Slippers?  Pink horse whip?  Silk cushion?  I could go on... this is, of course, aside from the 'authorized' chew toys imported from the four corners of the earth before her arrival Chez McGuire.  Aside from these things, earliero on our walk around the building I had to remove an either dead or comatose mini-frog from her mouth as she tried to digest it, as well as a 2" piece of unidentifiable bone, and I think some cow cud...  I cannot imagine having a baby would be this hard - just kidding, all mommas out there!

The last few days have seen a massive improvement in sleeping habits; her crate is in our bedroom and with the aid of "Relaxing Music for Dogs" (I kid you not) and a little patience on our part, she's now sleeping most of the night in there, undisturbed, apart from telling us she wanted to poop last night at 2am.  My pilates instructor this morning asked what was wrong in class, I told her, "Baby crying..."  It may as well have been.

Mitzie is still very timid outside the apartment but has actually developed a bad barking/growling habit in the last two days...  Her first outburst yesterday was at the stables, where she slept happily on the sofa for an hour at the side of me, but then when my friend Tara came to chat to me, she went ballistic, barking and agrowling.  Same thing today when the doorbell went a couple of times, and later today when our maid brought the kid she looks after to meet the dog... Actually, I was quite pleased about that one!!!

To be fair, Mitzie had a stressful day...  we visited the vets, which was lovely, but out of nowhere, a thermometer was shoved up her bum... she didn't flinch!  After nail clipping, skin check, ears cleaning, heart monitoring, and a good old squeezing from the vet, she was subjected to a (not so experienced) assistant shaving the back of her neck and not one, but two local anaesthetics, before a needle as big as your finger was injected into her containing a microchip.  She was scanned, successfully, and the numbers matched up.  Now we can swipe her at the supermarket!  Maybe she'll bleep through security at the airport or shops?  Whatever, she didn't move a muscle and was very much a lady throughout the whole process.

And now she sleeps... after a little whining, and my first glass of wine, she and I are both relaxed.  Please let it stay this way just through dinner!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Barking Mad

So, not only did Mitzie find her BIG barking voice yesterday, Tom and I are BARKING MAD that we've had our first complaint about her at our apartment.  Wow, didn't even take a week!!!  Head of the residents' association (WHATEVER) has complained that she was in the 'communal areas' which I'm assuming as a rational person means poolside and in the kids' playground, NOT the driveway around the building where everyone parks their cars.  I'm cool with not taking her on the grass, and look forward to seeing THE RULE BOOK that the building manager is bringing tomorrow.  Tom has vowed to learn EVERY rule in the book, and call the building manager every time we see someone contravening 'a rule.'  Maybe it was me letting her run wild in the spider plants (she looked VERY cute!) or Tom taking her for a snoop in the bushes by the kids' playground... whatever, we will overcome!

Yesterday Mitzie really came into her own; we took her to the stables for the first time where she met Majesty... I don't know who was more nervous, her or Tom!!!  She was actually very relaxed around the horses, chased the geese and duck, didn't notice the monkeys (despite them pointing at her!), was a little timid around some of the farm dogs that live there, but went BESERK went our friend's dog, Fido, a sort of houndy looking boxery type dog, came into where we were sitting.  She was barking up a storm!!!  Fido, who is 10 times her size, looked positively perplexed and skulked away.  Apparently he's a big baby and LOVES little dogs, squirrels, all that stuff.  I predict they will be married in a year.  It always starts that way!  Her barking continued when we got home as Tom ran out of the bathroom with just a towel round his waist; Mitzie, it was enough to scare me too!!!

Training is going OKAY.  We are kind of pooping and a peeping in the right places, but nighttime is difficult with much crying from the crate if she has to be separated from us.  We have taken a couple of steps back in her crate training and are sitting alongside her while she's in there to stop her a) chewing her way out and b) crying til Tom caves...

She has already, you'll be pleased to know, shown signs of equestrian prowess, running around the house with a pink whip in her mouth reading to 'giddy up!'

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Who knew that having a dog could be so difficult?  But I should have known, having had Majesty (horse) to relate it to.  One minute you have a glorious day, the next, a terrible time, with no rhyme nor reason to it.  I guess that's the beauty of the relationship between humans and their pets.

Yesterday was a trying time for Mitzie who suddenly became very timid again leaving the apartment and had to be carried to the peeps spot (where nothing happened, again...) which could have been the result of all the stray dogs lurking round every corner or the fact we'd been charged by a cow earlier.  Our long walk/run in the afternoon wasn't much better; I carried her to the park but she seemed happier to sit on my knee instead of exercising, but would put on a sudden sprint when she saw the exit.  People often under estimate the intelligence of animals; she knows where she is and where she wants to be, much the same as Majesty, who walks S L O W L Y out from the stables but is very quick to virtually trot back in.

After three hours of post exercise snoozing (think I wore her out eventually) she flipped into a funny half hour which saw her picking up and running off with anything that wasn't screwed down - baseball hat, shoes, slippers, sneakers, phone case - and me replacing it with authorized toy - i.e., something indestructible.  It was during this phase that a friend of mine called and just as I was telling her how well Mitzie had done in finding the right place to peep/poop, she (Mitzie, not my friend) just got down and did it on her brand new puppy rug from Singapore!!!  That wasn't the worst of it... Tom, who cannot resist her pleading eyes and whining, against my better judgement, allowed her time on our bed... she thanked him, by peeping all over the duvet and soaking it through the sheets.  They may think I'm hard nosed about all this stuff, but it will benefit them in the long run.  And me, who won't be washing as many sheets...

Today we are back to 'performing' on the balcony, but still very timid when 'out on the streets.'  I must admit, I'm a little scared of the packs of dogs here, and Tom and she were terrified by  gang this morning, so I don't blame her for wanting to stay in the confines of the safe apartment!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big News in Little Dogville

Where to begin!  The last 24 hours have been a revelation!!!  For no apparent reason yesterday, Mitzie gave her first tiny 'wuff wuff' followed by a small growl...  I think it was her reaction to the dearth of Olympic coverage here in India!  She quite enjoys watching the TV.  Then last night, she pooped in the designated area on our balcony, despite about eight attempts to get her to do it outside.  And this morning, we had our first peeps on the balcony too!!!  It had been 15 hours since she last went, which seemed ridiculously long, and she doesn't seem to want to go outside on the grass.  Slowly but surely she'll get the hang of it... 

The vet came to see her yesterday and gave her a clean bill of health, except for a small eye infection was has been plaguing her for a while before we brought her home.  We discussed the options of getting her spayed - and he could actually do it at home!  Yikes!  Not sure what he would charge, but his one-hour visit yesterday was the ridiculous amount of $7.50!!!  Tom wants him to visit every day...

We did have a restless night...  Twice during the night Mitzie launched herself like a rocket dog onto our bed and woke me up from a deep sleep.  Tom is the softy in the house, letting her stay there, while I frantically get her to go back in her bed.  We will try her in the crate tonight... Neither of them will like that!!!

I'm sure life is going on as normal in Bangalore and feel slightly guilty that Majesty is being neglected til we establish a routine for the little one.  However, I did hear yesterday that he was being filmed for a small part in a Kannada film, so he's clearly doing quite well without me!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You can't teach an old dog...

Mitzie has now been with us nearly 48 hours.  She's adorable and so loving but a lot of hard work!!!  Yesterday she learned a number of new tricks - some good, some not so good - such as:

- Leaping onto the highest part of the chair and leaping off again is good fun - not good for Dachsunds' backs!
- The kitchen is where it happens, particularly the bin, to the point where she opened it with her nose... it's now moved up onto a unreachable shelf!
- Outside is not so scary, despite a little hard work and coaxing to get her to move even a few steps.  She's very shaky but once she gets into her stride, she's off.  And all on a collar and leash that she's never had on before.  
- People love her, so remind me NOT to be outside when the schoolkids are coming home. They're mad for her.  And she doesn't seem to mind the fuss.
- Fetch is fun, especially with her favourite lamb toy.  Still hasn't quite got that she has to bring it back to me... not to her favourite spot on the sofa!
- Chewing is great, except when it's the corner of my laptop, my slipper, the sofa, her bed, etc.  On the advice of friends, we used a deterrent spray all over the legs and bottom of our wooden furniture and that's done the trick; she doesn't show any sign of interest.  And as soon as she starts to chew anything bad, it's replaced with her favourite lamb and a bone.

The one puzzling factor for us is her desire to peep and poop IN the house, versus OUTSIDE.  She seems to have found a spot in our bedroom for poop (thanks for that, this morning!) and one in my dressing room for peeps.  Suffice to say ALL the doors are closed now and a more rigid 'ELIMINATION' schedule is in place.  That said, after three trips outside today, and a couple onto the newspaper balcony, by 11:30am she STILL hadn't peed.... until she decided to do it on the (thankfully tiled) living room floor...  I guess it will be a long process!

And now she sleeps...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog Blog

It's been a long time coming, but around the time of my last posting, we found a gorgeous little 8-month ol dachshund bitch that we named Mitzie.  Given summer travels to the UK, France, and Singapore, we couldn't bring her home until yesterday...  and now our life will never be the same!!!

We have been to see her a few times inbetween our travels and she's been an absolute delight, liking nothing better than a good cuddle up on the sofa.  Yesterday, when I went to collect her from her family home, she ran straight up to me, crying, as if she knew something was happening.  After some goodbyes to her momma and sister, I took her off for an appointment at Fuzzy Wuzzy to get her cleaned up and smelling good.  

She was very good in the car and snuggled up all the way, but seemed a bit bewildered by everything.  At Fuzzy Wuzzy she was PERFECTLY behaved, but was a little shaky afterwards but soon settled down when we went to the apartment.  She is not house-trained, as she lived outside before, so our patience will be tested!  As we live on the sixth floor, we are attempting a mix of paper/outdoor training, with a crate...  our first attempts were foiled as Mitzie picked a couple of mats in the bedroom - one to peep on and one to poop on!!!  Despite using 'dog training spray' to encourage her to go on the balcony, these seemed to be the best spots for her.  We will persevere!

She didn't seem too much interested in toys yesterday, but soon learned what a 'treat' is and that her food appears regularly in her crate.  She ate it standing half in and half out - and within a half hour we were cleaning up more peeps from the rug!!!  We tried to get her to go outside at 11pm but she didn't seem too keen - eventually, we brought her back in and she did a successful one on the newspaper.

Taking her outside is a little difficult right now as she has never worn a collar and lead - and wasn't ready to be introduced to them last night.  Today she's happily wearing her collar - with the odd chew here and there.

Our first full night was somewhat uneventful; we put her dog bed on our bed where she slept for a couple of hours, then we moved her to the floor.  Despite a little whimpering she soon settled down.

This morning I was traumatized at the LACK of peeps!  Despite desperate attempts on my part to get her to go, nothing was happening, and for three hours she ate, played, and slept quite happily until the urge was too much...  After a little whimpering and circling around, back she went to find a rug in another room - and dropped off some poop five minutes later at the same spot as yesterday (now without a mat!!!)  

Chewing has started today - anything and everything from the corner of my Mac (not good, Mitzie) to a fabric drinks coaster and the sofa...  I have managed to replace things with a Nylabone and a little toy, especially after she decided my diamond engagement ring was a good thing to get her teeth around!!!

She is currently napping next to me on the sofa (she seems to do that A LOT) and has enjoyed visits from the Maid and our Driver, neither of whom really fazed her.  No barking so far (thank goodness!) and this afternoon we will be trying a little walk around the block... don't hold your breath!