Hello, My Name Is The Food Lady

And I inhale paint fumes.

No, not because this is THE SCANDAL you’ve all been waiting for these past 11 years of blogging, but because I spent the day starting to finally fix up this old new house o’mine.  I’ve been here nearly three weeks, but as I work, like, 10 or more hours a day, there’s not been a lot of time to do stuff. And also, first it needed to be cleaned.  If ever I meet the old tenant of this house, I am going to offer her my condolences on being allergic to cleaning products, sponges, cloths and scrubbing implements, because there is NO other reason for a house to be this gross.  I have found dirt caked into places I did not know dirt could even find.  It’s almost remarkable.  I am the first to admit that my fastidiousness only extends to things I can see and I cannot guarantee that anything is sparkling behind furniture or appliances I can’t move easily, like my stove (actually I can guarantee that it ISN’T), but dear doG in heaven, how do you get dirt INSIDE your medicine cabinet?

We are on well water here too, and the water is hard, and very high in iron.  My landlord installed a very expensive filtration system on both houses when he bought the place, but former tenant failed to maintain her system (it’s, umm, super easy to maintain incidentally) so it no longer works.  The water smells like it tastes when you bite your lip.  It also stains everything it sits in.  The other morning I was waiting for my toast and *idly* took an SOS pad to the kitchen sink because the entire thing was stained orange.  I assumed I was fighting a losing battle but guess what – 5 minutes later I had a stainless steel coloured sink again.  The bathtub is another story – it’s coming off, slowly, but I am using SOS pads at an alarming rate (and WTF does CLR even do?  Not clean rust off your bathtub, that’s for sure!).  Seriously – had she taken 5 minutes even once a week to give it a quick pass with an SOS pad, it would not be taking me days and days to try and make the bathtub not look like someone murdered pennies in it.  Ugh.

So I woke up this morning and had a lie-in because I was feeling sorry for myself.  I knew starting a new business would be tough, but I guess I didn’t know how tough.  Once I land a client they absolutely love me and their dogs do as well, but I need more of them; I’m not making enough money to survive yet.  I work from 7AM – noonish for my other job, which I can fortunately do from home, but it doesn’t pay very well.  Then I leave around 12:30 and walk dogs, and get home around 5:30PM, if traffic and such favours me.  The nice part of not having many clients yet is that all or almost all of my dogs can come with me, so I don’t need to then exercise dogs when I get home, but the downside is that between gas and bridge tolls, I’m earning almost nothing.  I know it will come – I have a full time client, and one part time client that is going full time soon, and one sporadic part time client.  Not enough yet.  I advertise online wherever I can, and I know it will take time, but at the end of the day, it’s just not enough yet.

My landlord is great and basically will pay for anything I want to do, as long as he himself doesn’t have to do the work as he has own very large farm to run and take care of.  So that’s fine, I buy what I need and take it off the rent.  But my morning job covers my rent, car insurance and car payments and that’s it, so if I spend too much money on stuff before the end of the month, one of those car payments or whatever will bounce.  So that’s frustrating.  I also still have not gotten my security deposit back from my previous landlord, which is supposed to be my hydro payment because I have no other spare money.  I’m living on tomato soup and toast at the moment and I count every penny before I spend it.  It’s kinda of exhausting.  Nope, it’s super exhausting actually, and sometimes it’s so scary I can’t sleep at night.

So anyway, I lay in bed this morning feeling sad, and decided that laying around feeling sad wasn’t going to change anything, so I got out of bed and went for a short drive and dropped business cards off at all the local pet related businesses in the area.  And I picked up some primer and got to work in the bathroom.  Because the bathroom was green.  And I don’t mean a happy apple green, I mean an institutional green like it’s the 1940s and my house is a hospital for mental patients and the nation is at war and there’s no money for nice coloured paint for a class of society we want to pretend is invisible anyway.  It was mental hospital green and DIRTY.  And for some reason, full of nail holes and screw holes.  So I filled them all in, and primed the hell out of it.  Note: “Second coat in just 1 hour!” is LIES DAMN LIES.  It’s bed time and it’s still wet.  But now that the bathroom is white(ish) it looks about 3 times bigger than it did this morning.  It’s going to look pretty okay when it’s painted a) white and b) not with flat paint.  And I am just going to assume that all of the other rooms are going to look bigger when painted too, because most them are ALSO green of some kind, or else some really depressing bargain-bin beige, or – like the room that is going to become my photo studio – an acid trip of insane psychedelic swirls (not.even.kidding).  Oh primer, we are going to become very good friends for a long time, I think.

Whilst waiting (futilely as it turned out) for the primer to dry in the bathroom so I could apply a second coat, I decided to paint the dog room.  But first I had to prime the door, because all the doors in the place are ALSO filthy.  And the dog room walls were covered in what looks suspiciously like snot, so they needed to be cleaned.  And then I started painting with a can of orange paint that is supposed to be terracotta with a kick, but looked alarmingly like a pumpkin on ecstasy at a rave when I first slapped it on. I’m hoping it calms the fuck down when it dries!  I did two walls and then decided I was just plain old done with painting for the day, because it was almost dinner time.  And I grabbed my camera and took the dogs outside in the sun.  And this is where you come in :)

“Look Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.”

(and yes, I recycled that from my personal facebook page, so here’s my preemptive shut UP to my FB friends)

We started out playing ball in my front field, but that field is ringed with old blackberry bushes (although they are not bushy, just huge tangles of dead and thorniness) but RABBITS hang out in the thorny and RABBITS cause Spring to go berserk.  Even the thought, hint or suspicion of RABBITS cause her to go berserk.

And when Springs goes berserk, all the other bastardogs lose their collective minds and then this happens:

And when that happens, it cannot happen quietly.  It has to be accompanied by as much barking as possible, as well as the ungodly sounds of Wootie barkscreaming.  And since we live next door to, and share a fence with lots of these:

And those are guarded by a couple of – okay I don’t have a photo of them, but let’s just say REALLY BIG DOGS.  And I don’t want my new neighbours to hate me right out of the gate.  So I have to put a stop to the RABBIT insanity as soon as it starts.  So we moved to the pasture between my house and my landlord’s house to play.  Because the turkey won’t let us play in my actual yard.  Ever since we moved here, the turkey and the roosters have become crazy territorial.  They don’t f*ck with me, because I schooled them from the get go (with a shovel), but last weekend Tyrone the rooster attacked my friend Michelle!  It was a cheap ass sneak attack from behind too, the asshole.

Anyway, Terrence the turkey scares the little dogs, and also Dexter.  Because Dexter’s body is large, but his brain is little.

So we just decided to play in the field.  It has a couple of little ponds that my ducks were not using at the moment, and kindly let the dogs splash around in it.

And they raced up and down the hill, because the pasture is … well, pastoral and full of gently rolling hills and other The Sound Of Music shit.

(last weekend my landlord took me and Michelle on a tour of the rest of the 18 acres.  Dudes, there’s a LAKE at the back, like a trout lake. where my dogs can swim!  And there are cows.  And I met my baby goats.  This one many of you have seen already; I named him Harvey.  He thought my coffee cup was his milk bottle and he was REAL happy to meet me as a result.  So I named him Harvey Milk)

harvey

Anyhoo.  There was much gallumping and gleeful running around after frisbees and toys to be done, border collie style.

Look at this ole lady dog!  14.5, still tough as nails.  She comes hiking almost every day, and though she has to be lifted over logs, and  she goes up hills sideways because neither her front end nor her back end has the power to propel her up an incline, she’s determined to do it!

And still the non-border collies found tangles of thorniness to hunt RABBITS in.

They didn’t find any RABBITS though, so at least they came back when I called them.

I really have to get on the fencing and keep them from reaching that side of the field though, because it borders a path that lots of horse riders use, and as my dogs are both OBNOXIOUS and not used to horses, they tend to race over en masses and scare the bejesus out of the horses and riders both.  I really don’t want to inadvertently kill some horse rider when it gets chucked off its 1000 lb mount, so I am double fencing, so they can’t reach that fence.  Also, I want the poultry to live between those two fences, as when they are in my yard they take disgusting liberties like pooping in my porch.  And a while ago I had my kitchen door open while I was doing stuff and came into the house to get something and found like 7 chickens IN MY LIVING ROOM.  Impertinent assholes.

Anyway, that was our first real playtime on the property and I think everyone had fun, because they are all now passed out cold, about 80% of them in my office here with me now.  Piper favours the closet, while Dexter and Gemma argue over the bed under my desk (Gemma usually wins because she can’t hear or see Dexter’s ugly faces and sounds, and he’s all teeth and no trousers that one).

I think I like it here.  I think the dogs do too :)

I will like it just a teensy bit better when the wood stove finally goes in though, because when it’s cold outside, it’s COLD in here.  When the temperature drops, I can see my breath in my house.

I will also like it a little better when I can afford it.  So please, be sure to tell your friends about The Walking Dog so I can round up some more clients to walk.  We walk in some really amazing places with tons of stuff to explore, rivers to splash through, logs to leap over and stuff.  The dogs are so pooped when they get home.  It’s really awesome!  They just love it, and so do I … and I really want to keep doing it!  Even if some weirdo sent me a huge long email in response to one of CL ads that accused me and all dogwalkers of destroying wildlife habitat (I don’t EVER take dogs to areas where there is wildlife habitat risk!) and wrapped up her insane rant by suggesting I should want to kill myself for being such a horrible person.  Like, wow.  Whacko.

Also, you can really help me out by booking a photo shoot, or purchasing a print or two from me.  I have a few 18X24 prints ready to go already – if you’re interested in seeing them, contact me and I’ll send photos.  if there’s anything I’ve photographed that you’d like to have a print of, please let me know and I can make that happen too.  Soon I hope to have my photo studio IN MY HOUSE ready to roll, and can do studio sessions right here at home, which saves you the cost of me renting studio space.

Hopefully tomorrow that blasted primer will be dry enough to apply the second coat, and I can finish painting the dog room, and then get rid of the acid trip in the photo studio room.  *shudder*

Then Monday it’s back to work.  I have all three clients to walk on Monday, so TWooie gets to stay home because otherwise he beats up the 100lb Lab.  Because TWooie is small, but his ego is enormous.

Much love to you all from our slowly-being-improved stixier house in the stix (now with RABBITS)

Perpetually Pesty Peetie

Just now I was sitting at my computer enjoying a cup of coffee when my intuition said to me “You might want to turn around in your chair right about now.”  So I craned my neck to the right just in time to see Peetie sail over the babygate at the mudroom doorway like it wasn’t even there.

She has, apparently, discovered the cat box in the bathroom.  She also took a moment to test the screen door to see if it were possibly not latched, so she could take herself on a self guided tour of the yard.  Then she popped right back over that gate and into the rest of the house again.

She likes to gather up the food bowls after breakfast and chew on them.  Every morning I take them away from her one at a time, and every morning she sets about collecting food bowls and trying to chew on them at my feet.  The first time I caught her carrying a food bowl around I commented about how charming it was, and my friend Connie warned that “the shine would wear off that real quick.”  Was she ever right.  Peetie is quite aware that I don’t like her food-bowl-chewing hobby, and has taken to hiding the odd bowl so she can chew on it with impunity.  DoDo’s bowl has been MIA for two days now; I can’t find it anywhere.  I have a really small house, so this is a mystery.

This puppy has no off switch that I can find.  Can’t reboot her.  I’d like to unplug her for two minutes and maybe do a system restore to a point in time where she wasn’t constantly on the prowl looking for mischief.  Are you a small dog trying to take a nap after we were outside playing Dumbball for an hour or so?  Peetie will poke you in the ribs repeatedly with her nose until you wake up.  If you wake up with four extra sets of teeth poised at her delicate nose skin and a rage that is unmatched in this earthly realm, Peetie will exploit it with a friendly tail wag and turn it into a wrestling match.  If you are persistent in ignoring her ‘friendly overtures’ she will take hold of your tail and drag you across the floor.  When you explode with outrage, she will play bow at you and delight in your enthusiasm for her efforts.

Are you Mr. Woo, trying to have some post-breakfast quiet time in a crate?  Peetie will  thrust her head and shoulders into the crate with you and then just stand there, tail wafting gently to and fro as though rustled by a benign autumn breeze, and stare at you 7 inches from your eyeballs while your growling escalates to a fevered pitch.  When you can no longer take the *staring* and burst forth from the crate like a freshly hatched god, she will follow you wherever thouest go in the house, tripping on her toes like your fairy godmother.

In the evenings when I’m curled up in my easy chair watching tv with a Fae noodled up against my thigh, Peetie stands on the arm of the chair (the chair rocks, incidentally, so this is double irritating) and plucks at Fae’s fur like she’s gathering material for a nest (in which, no doubt, she will hatch another plan to be an enormous pain in the ass)  while Fae gets angrier and angrier.  When I tell her to GO THE F*CK AWAY PEETIE!!!! she leaps backwards and – like a hairy boomerang – returns with yet more zest and vigor.

This dog is a PEST.  How could I have been so wrong about her?

I have fostered quite possibly hundreds of dogs in the last 20 years, so many I can’t count or recall them all.  I have seen lots of marvelous changes in shell shocked fosters as they unfold their mysteries and delightfully reveal themselves to me.  I have never been so fooled as I was by “No Drive” Peetie.  I should have named her Cerberus.  She definitely has the energy of three dogs!  And yesterday on our walk she rolled in something so vile (Michelle and I agreed, after much sniffing and gagging, that it was probably, ermm, a human “by-product”) so she definitely smelled like three dogs.

She’s staring at me RIGHT NOW.  I assume this means she is about to engage in some naughtiness I can’t even begin to fathom.

Her favouritest partner-in-shrillness is the Red Mop who is still with us for summer camp.  That’s another pest-in-training.

She doesn’t get into mischief in the house though (mostly).  She saves it for when we are outside, and she wants to chase down every single Dumbball ever thrown, and if she does not get there first, hang off the neck fur of the dog who does, or rebound off them over and over again whilst shrieking in their closest ear.

Peetie speaks this language and encourages her.

Dexter, bless his heart, tolerates it magnanimously.

This dog, however, has had quite enough thank you.

About two days ago, Fae lost her last shred of patience and beat 12 kinds of holy hell out of DoDo.  And I don’t mean she snarled and snapped at her, I mean she laid into her like a f*cking BOSS and kicked the living shit out of her.  There was red curly hair flying, flailing, screaming, voiding of bowels … and still Fae kept on coming.

My little doe-eyed darling is FIERCE.  She trounced the pesty ginger and I let her, and I laughed and laughed.  I only broke it up when the other dogs took notice and went to join in the fray, because frankly everyone but Peetie could take or leave DoDo and I was worried they’d gang up on her.

You do not want to mess with FaeFae.  Thirteen pounds of huggable, snuzzable, nose-booping, cheek-kissing futhermucking ASSASSIN is what Fae is.  In her previous incarnation, I’m pretty sure she was what they modeled The Sopranos’ characters on.

Poor DoDo.  Life’s lessons are hard.

(This is a senior-moment interlude, entitled “Why Is The Wootie Toy Not Moving?  I’m Confused.”)

One thing Peetie has gotten better about is leaving the terriers alone to their terrier games.

She used to be right in there like she thought she was an honoured guest whenever they would start wrasslin’, which would of course ruin and thus end the game immediately.  Because the terriers play on an alternate plain of existence that none of the other dogs can really appreciate.

Winter may have been an accidental addition, but he is the yin to Spring’s yang and the two of them make one whole (one whole ball of chaos, of course).  I can’t imagine them apart now.  They are twice as much trouble this way, but that’s a small price to pay.  Since I’ve taught Peetie to leave them to their shenanigans, they will now sometimes invite her to join them in a sort of modified version of their games once they have exhausted one another.  Sometimes I catch Peetie and Spring having a romp, which is nice.  Because even though Spring is a terrier, capital T, she is still a sensitive soul and for a while Peetie’s energy overwhelmed and frightened her.  She still won’t play ball unless I leash the puppies, as she doesn’t like being mowed down in the chase.

Dexter likes to play a chase game with Peetie that used to be the purvey solely of Tweed, where I yell “GO GO GO!!” and Dexter takes off at top speed barking and “snarling” while Peetie chases him.  Nobody ever played this with him except for Piper in her younger years, and then Tweed, right up until shortly before he died.  Now Peetie has taken up the mantle and Dexter is happy again.

These guys?  Off in their own world, hunting things, smelling where things were once, and actively looking for other things to smell after or hunt.  They would be happiest if the whole property was fenced, and they could spend all their days outside laying around and watching for threats to chase away.  Whilst collecting as many burrs in their coats as possible.

And this is just my delightfully naughty, super hilarious living hot water bottle.  She is Summer’s-End Barometer, as she has begun to burrow into my sweathsirts again in the last week.

And this is a chicken.

Peeetie has eaten all the dogs beds in the house.  ALL of them.  They are all outside in a pile by the fence waiting to be carted to the burn pile if/when my landlord ever returns my wheelbarrow, which he absconded with about two months ago under the guise of “borrowing it” for ” a couple of days.”  If you would like to contribute to my Replace The Dog Beds So Piper Has Somewhere To Rest Her 14 Year Old Bones Fund, feel free to throw some cash at my PayPal :)

How To Be Addy (a pictorial step-by-step instructional guide)

1. Do something naughty, like digging holes in the agility practice area

2. When The Food Lady tells you off, blow her a raspberry

3. Immediately regret your impulsive sassiness

4. Decide to laugh the whole thing off

Bonus 5. If concerned that you are the only one laughing, distract The Food Lady by tackling her at top speed with wet and muddy paws

No matter how naughty she is (and Addy is VERY VERY naughty) she never fails to make me laugh.  There are times when I have to turn my head away and giggle into my sleeve when I am giving her shit for something lest she see me.  I am so very happy she is no worse for wear after the rat poison incident.

And speaking of shit, riddle me this: yesterday the dogs and I spent pretty much the entire day outside.  I built a small brooder house and pen for my week old mistral gris (them’s For-Eatin’ Chickens for you city folk) which took me all day as I am not much of a handywoman/carpenter.  Then around dinner time we played ball for an hour.  Then we came inside and we all had dinner.  Then I spent about a half hour outside locking up all the chickens and ducks for the night.  Came back inside the house and found three little piles of poop on the floor.  WHY???  Was 7 hours outside insufficient time for pooping?  Harumph.

Then later that evening, PEETIE pooped on the living floor right in front of me.  Srsly, these dogs, I swear.

In other Peetie news, I found her “on” switch and now I can’t turn it off!

As it happens, I *can* build drive in a dog (not Italian greyhounds though).  Maybe too well.  Now ALL THE TOYS ARE BELONG TO PEETIE.

She chases every ball or frisbee, no matter for whom the toy is thrown.  She’ll take dogs out and send them ass over tea kettle in her quest to get there first.  Most dogs have figured out to keep one eye on the ball, and one eye on her and get out of the way quick.  But not everydog. Poor DoDo.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME?!?!

I love the new and improved Peetie, though the carsickness had failed to get any better.  I am not sure if the other dogs like the new and improved toy-crazy Peetie though.

It’s like looking in a mirror, isn’t it Dexter?  A younger, svelter, less weird mirror.

Although to be fair, everyone harasses Dexter at play time.  Probably because he just takes it.

Except for the terriers, who prefer to bother one another in weird and physics-bending ways.

And Wootie, who has eyes only for bothering Piper.

DoDo likes to play ball / frisbee and likes to hang off Dexter’s ruff too, whichever is available.

She is an interesting puppy.  Much like Peetie, she has all this untapped drive – but unlike Peetie she is not shut down, but rather obnoxious about it.  Today whilst letting the dogs outside one by one through the babygate (to prevent free form chaos) she bit me in the toe when I used my leg to body block her from running through when it wasn’t her turn.  Little turd!  When she first arrived she came with the following “issues”:

  • barked in crate at 5AM, demanding a walk. Fixed that.  Grouchy Food Lady is grouchy in the morning.  Now she stays quietly in her crate until I let her out.
  • Played keep away when called.  Fixed that.  Hard to play keep away on a long line, when The Food Lady will reel you in like a swordfish.  She doesn’t even have to wear the long line now and comes running at top speed when called.
  • Fussy about her food/anorexic.  Fixed that.  Lots of daily exercise builds a good appetite.
  • Wasn’t food motivated / refused to eat kibble.  Fixed that.  Now she’d eat sticks or cardboard as cookies if I offered her one.  Loves to perform for food now.

I think sometimes people underestimate poodles’ capacity for having boundless energy (Gemma not included in this statement).  Maybe little toy poodles are lazy things, I dunno, but DoDo is a Moyen poodle and she is bouncing off the walls energetic and needs somewhere to put it.  Running with a pack of collies every day is a good place to put it.  And she really just needs some boundaries and some manners, which she is quickly developing here.  In her first couple of days she chased the chickens, and the rooster chased her right back and she ran SCREECHING from the hen yard, while I laughed and laughed.  She has also learned to pick blackberries off the plant rather than stand around pathetically whining while everyone else feasts.  I think she’s just not had very many rules in her life.  Her owner says he bikes to work with her every day (she’s in a trailer) and she barks the whole way.  She tried barking in my car for like 30 seconds and I turned around, gave her the stink eye, and told her in no uncertain terms how lovely an orange poodle mat would look in my kitchen and she’s been quiet ever since.  She’s not stupid!

This is pretty stupid.

Kidding, kidding!  You know I love me some Dexter, crappy agility dog though he may be.  He’s a special blend of .. special.  And he will be seven years old in 12 days.  SEVEN!!  I don’t even know how that happened!

Then there’s Winter.  He actually is kinda stupid ;-)

In other completely unrelated news, I am thinking of getting/raising some turkeys.  I don’t have any yet, so there are no photos of them.  Instead, here’s a photo of her royal tiny highness FaeFae, contemplating ways to murder dogs who get the ball before she does (buh bye Peetie and DoDo!).