My beloved dog, Angel, frequently takes center stage – even boasting an entire Page about her on this blog.
Lately, however, I don’t feel like I’ve written about Angel as much as I used to. Perhaps that’s a good thing; maybe it means my world is expanding and she is not the primary focus of each day. Don’t get me wrong, though. Her little presence is so chock-full of personality and energy that she still commands a great deal of attention on a daily basis.
Today, I thought I’d give you a little round-up of what’s been going on in Angel’s world . . .
On the island, Angel seems to encounter mysterious ailments, like her inflamed toes, or I inadvertently give her a near-lethal pain remedy, or even just the constant battle against ticks – it’s always something.
Earlier this week, I came home from running errands and noticed a strange mark on Angel’s forehead. At first I thought it was a tick, but it wasn’t. Upon closer inspection, it seems like it’s a tiny patch of missing hair and a dark patch that might have been a little blood. Hard to tell, even when I busted out the magnifying glass. Beau had noticed earlier that day, too, but found the same in his inspection. Neither of us can figure out what she got into, but we surmise she must have encountered a branch or something when she was rambling in the bush.
At least it doesn’t seem to be bothering her. So after cleaning the area well, I just chalked it up to one of those things!
So now that you know what that strange blemish is (for those of you who scrutinize her appearance that closely), let’s move on to how Angel’s island life has been playing out lately.
Angel sleeps on a pillow (down-filled and extra cozy, of course) on the floor in the bedroom, just a few feet from my side of the bed. Each night, I take her collar off before bedtime so that her nocturnal movements are less noisy without the jingling of tags. (The collar is actually more for Angel’s U.S. visits with her rabies tag and Stateside phone number, but she seems to like wearing it, and it comes in handy when I need to put her on a leash, so…)
Any dog owner knows how impressive a dog’s vocabulary is, as well as any specialized lingo that has developed between each dog and their human family. Angel usually settles right down to sleep, but if she needs any reminders, “time for night-night” and “go seepy” seem to have evolved between us over the years. (Somehow “go to sleep” turned into “go sleepy,” but I have no idea why I dropped the letter “l” in my pronunciation to her!)
Unless something is wrong, Angel sleeps through the night. However, my dainty dog snores like a trucker, and Beau (who blessedly does not snore) makes frequent jokes about this.
Angel’s body clock is precisely in sync with Beau, and they share a very sweet early morning greeting each day. By the time Beau leaves for work, I’ve usually roused myself. Morning is my favorite part of the day, generally and as it relates to Angel. She is so doggone HAPPY and perky and prancing all about. It’s infectious and helps me wake up, too.
First order of business upon exiting the bedroom is to let Angel outside. This is usually a very quick part of the routine because, food-lover that she is, Angel returns immediately to the house so she can get her breakfast.
Breakfast is served to Angel in the form of a ball that dispenses her dry food as she playfully bats it around. Brilliant! We call it her “kibble ball,” but it’s actually a “Tricky Treat Ball.” (I get nothing for this little promo, I just love the thing!)
This hard plastic ball is about the same age as Angel (8 years old) and remarkably resistant to falling apart from Angel’s daily battering. I also like that it is bright orange in color since I have to hunt it down when she’s done and often find it behind the blinds or under furniture.
The best part about the kibble ball is how much Angel loves it. She, of course, loves eating her kibble, but she delights in knocking that ball all around. I like that it keeps her occupied for a short while (rather than scarfing down a bowl of dog food in 8 seconds) and provides some physical activity for her morning energy.
See for yourself in this short, narrated video clip!
Sometime after breakfast, I’ll remember to put Angel’s collar back on her. When I mention, “Let’s get your collar” and pick it up, she wiggles excitedly and can barely sit still for me to fasten it around her neck. “Let’s get you dressed!”and she happily agrees.
Other morning antics this week included cardboard.
Good, bad or otherwise, since Angel was a young pup, I’ve let her play with empty cardboard rolls from toilet paper or paper towels. She loves to chew and tear the cardboard. She’ll gum it around a bit in her mouth and then spit out the chewed up pieces. It makes a mess, but a quick swoop through to pick up cardboard pieces is worth it to me to give her this bit of entertainment.
Over the years, Angel has learned when a treat is upcoming. The other day, I walked into the bathroom to blow my nose and Angel remained lounging in the bedroom. However, when I pulled the last piece of tissue paper off the toilet roll, she recognized the sound and came racing into the bathroom! I hadn’t even replaced the empty with a new roll yet – the faint sound of that final paper pulling away from the cardboard was all she needed!
She sat expectantly while I switched out the rolls, then handed her the empty one as a treat. She trotted off to the living room with it. Later, leaving a trail of cardboard pieces, she brought it back to the bedroom to continue playing.
By the time afternoon rolls around, the western sun bakes into our back deck and sparkles on the sea nearby. Especially on these cool winter days, Angel loves to spend time out there each day, lounging on the cushions and soaking in the warmth of the sun.
You think that _I_ am living the Better Life!? Well, I definitely am. But Angel has REALLY got it going on. A dog’s life, indeed.
I suppose it’s not ALL fun and games for her. Occasionally, I have to step up and be a disciplinarian. (Usually to correct bad behaviors that I created or enabled. Sigh.)
One of Angel’s less-than-ideal traits is her affinity for rampant barking. Often directed at the television.
Yes, Angel likes to watch tv with us in the evenings. And, I swear, she really does watch. I suspect this stems from her early years in a Doggy Daycare while I worked long hours. The Daycare had a tv going all day, and the dogs barked all day, so maybe it started there.
Regardless, it’s not good! She barks anytime an animal graces the screen. Also, Angel somehow seems to know the “bad guys” in movies. And, apparently, she does not like big hair or hats. Given Beau’s fondness for action flicks (with lots of “bad guys” and yelling) and Westerns (with lots of hats and horses), this presents a problem.
Scolding and other corrections haven’t worked, so it was time to bring out the big guns. Literally.
I harkened back to tools I used in my early training days with Angel, but failed to follow through with. I rummaged around and found the bright pink spray bottle that was packed away with other leftover dog stuff. I filled it with water and placed it on the coffee table in front of the t.v. I held it up to show Angel as a warning, and she immediately recognized it! I could tell by her expression and mildly cowed demeanor.
That evening, the t.v.-watching began, and Angel’s barking began. “No! No!” accompanied by a few blasts of water surprised her into silence. Angel stared at me holding the pink bottle from my vantage point on the nearby sofa. I told her to be quiet and praised her for remaining so.
A little while later, she started to growl and stood up to bark at the t.v. I called her name and held up the water bottle when she turned to look at me. That was enough! She flopped back down.
I’ve been doing this for several nights now, and the difference is remarkable! I will definitely follow-through with her training this time. Beau is appreciative, too, although he does chuckle at the belligerent look she gives me sometimes when I’m holding up the bottle as a warning and we’re staring each other down.
Then it’s bedtime, and we start all over again!
Whether on an island or not, how do your dogs enjoy their own Better Life?