It’s been a week !
Tuesday — LAST Tuesday, that is — Prince went to his new home in Auckland. Just when we were really starting to make progress ! Ah well, his new owner should be able to take him on from here. I’d really love to hear how he gets on; we were quite fond of him. The same afternoon, Jacqui dropped off a new dog, “Casey”, who has an owner waiting for her in Christchurch.
Casey is quite different. For a start, she’s got all her fur ! She’s at a better weight, and she doesn’t have Prince’s myriad little knicks and scars. She’s not as leggy as Prince, but her tail is really long — I had to take a look at everyone else’s tails at the dog walk on Sunday, to see if I was imagining it, but I think she had the longest tail there — and her ears don’t stand all the way up. She’s much more coordinated on the stairs, and when she flobs on the sheepskin, she doesn’t fling herself down with quite the THUD that Prince did, and she manages to get all of herself neatly on it, with her head on the floor-pillow (Prince was always sort of half-on, half-off, and as often as not it was his back half on the pillow). Prince would fling himself down anywhere; Casey goes for the sheepskin. Or else the beanbag. You could look at it as if she’s spoiled or delicate, or you could look at it as an easy way to get her to lie down where you want her to. :^)
She’s afraid of the alpacas. She’s fine with horses and traffic, was initally nervous of the ceiling fan, but is fine with it now.
As far as the cats go, if they’re not moving, she’s not interested, which is a good sight better than Prince was even when he left us. She’ll go after them if they run, though, but in the last week she’s gotten better even about that. And the cats are likewise getting much more relaxed around her. Well maybe not *relaxed* exactly, but they’ll mostly go about their business. Slow Top has even come in to lie in front of the fire not three feet from her (he likes the fire, does Slow).
Regarding toys — Casey knows how to play ! Prince didn’t, really (and how sad is that ?!). If you threw a ball or a stick, he’d just stand there, waiting for you to do something that might have something to do with him, like call him over or pet him or something. He *loved* the bounce-and-squeak Irene sent (hi Irene !!), but he didn’t “play” with it, really, so much as kill it repeatedly and then try to eat it (which was a hoot to watch, if a little bit alarming; and no, we didn’t let him eat it). Casey, by contrast, will pick up the toy (we got her a caterpillar — why is it so many dog toys come in feline-patterned fake fur, I wonder ?) gallop around the house with it, throw it down onto the beanbag, mouth it a half-dozen times, pick it up, spin around, throw it on the floor and pounce on it, repeat from the top.
The only hitch with Casey: she’s got what they call “separation anxiety”, which in her case takes the form of barking (intermittently, but thank goodness we don’t have close neighbors !) and occasionally piddling on the carpet when we leave the house for any length of time. There are two different schools of thought on this. The first is that most of these dogs have always been kept in the company of other dogs, with lots of people around as well — they’re not used to being alone.
The sort of “natural dogsmanship” theory, on the other hand, is that when introduced to a new pack (me and Stephen), the dog is going to try and figure out who is alpha. If we are not convincing alphas, then she’ll feel it’s her responsibility to take the lead. She therefore feels responsible for us, and when we go away, it’s as if children you’re in charge of wander off on their own into the city, and you can’t follow them to look after them. She’s worried about “her charges” (us). Interesting way of looking at things, no ?
So anyway, Tuesday, we get the new foster dog, Casey. We pretty much immediately have to toss her in the car again and take her over to Sean’s place for gaming. Sean, mind you, has two young daughters, something like three and five, I think. We’d gotten premission to bring Prince over to “kid test” him, but we ended up bringing Casey instead. She performed with flying colors, I must say, and won herself a young fan club. She tolerated quite alot, and when things got a little too much for her, she just got up and walked away. Perfect.
The rest of the work week was “normal” — we bailed on A&S to get some time with the new dog, Thursday was dance class, Friday was the Ars Magica game (Casey flobbed on the floor).
Then The Weekend struck.
Saturday, we tossed Casey in the back of the car (she and Prince both travel well) and drove up to Otaki for the small-farmer’s field days. Chatted with various alpaca people, and achieved all our shopping Victory Conditions (alpaca nuts and fencing staples) and then some (also scored new mats for the catboxes, 50 root-trainer sized natives to plant in the shelter belt and bush block, and the massive “Flora” two-books-plus-CD set for less than a third retail).
Then we zoomed back home to host a Day O Fun. The weather was largely crap, so mostly there was a lot of hanging out indoors. I spent the first several hours hovering defensively around Casey, to make sure she wasn’t overwhelmed by her fan club (four girls, including Sean’s pair). You hear stories all the time along the lines of: Kid pesters dog. Dog tries to warn/avoid kid. Kid continues to pester dog. Repeat a few times. Dog gives up and snaps at kid in self-defense. Dog gets put down for being “vicious”. She’d done really well on Tuesday, and the kids were generally pretty good, but neither I nor their parents had much experience managing child-canine interaction, so I didn’t want to take chances. It was awfully sweet, though — the girls brought Casey a present — a rubber doggy ball on a foot long cord, in a pink gift bag with “Casey” written on it (and mind you Hazel, who’s I think five, “only writes for special occasions”). Awww !
I *think* everyone else enjoyed the party.
The highlight was setting the old horse trailer on fire. With the new shed now keeping the rain off the hay, we wanted to get the scrap metal guys to come and take away the nasty old trailer in the glen paddock. It still had a lot of wooden bits attached to it, however, so they suggested we burn it out and then get them to take away what remained. Luckily, it wasn’t actively pouring rain on us (like it has been the last couple times we’ve tried having a bonfire), but only kind of drizzling. It burned real good. Plus, there was cool stuff like holes in the sides sort of melting and flaking and the fire coming out in great big plumes (did I mention Stephen has spent the last several months stuffing the thing with cut brush ?).
Sunday, I bailed on dance class. Stephen bailed on fighting and went to gaming instead. I puttered around for a few hours until it was time to take Casey up to a gathering of Wellington area greyhound people, who all brought their dogs to walk in a big mob in Queen Elizabeth park. I’d like to say it was fun, but with a new dog I didn’t know very well, it was a bit fraught. She growled at a lot of the other dogs, for a start — assertive, we reckon. Then when we got to the beach, several of the other owners let their dogs off lead to run around on the sand. Casey was *really* excited and *really* wanted to go running with them, but I had no idea after the growling if she’d get into a fight with another loose dog, and she still barely knew her name at that point, FORGET coming when called. My triceps got a good workout clutching the leash. Considering there were a good twenty greyhounds there, about half of which were loose and running singly or in small packs at various times, it went remarkably well. One of the other dogs bit his tongue while racing, and one somersaulted over another’s leash and landed on her butt. No fights or anything, and nobody ran off and disappeared. It was pretty spectacular to watch them racing around in the open though, I must say. Casey calmed down quite a bit by the end, and stopped growling and pulling. I think she may even have made friends with a couple of the other dogs. Kylie was once again my dog-handling inspiration, though I think even she was a little rattled by the chaos (and potential carnage).
So the dog walk, while certainly exciting, was ultimately a bit more stressful than otherwise. Though I would have stayed at done some socializing at the end, I had to race home to go to Emily’s housewarming (she’s got the cutest little place in Strathmore/Miramar). Emily as usual put on a lovely spread of cheeses, dates and crackers, with port, sherry and watermelon (some supplied by guests). There were some familiar faces from the Cinco de Mayo shindig, and some new ones as well, and the conversational topics ranged far and wide. A haunted painting was given away.
So after a weekend like that, Stephen and I were pretty well wrecked. It’s no wonder, really, that Casey decided we needed looking after. Of course, multiple puddles in the conservatory did exactly nothing to help our stress levels. :^P
Monday night, Sybille came over so we could put together a CD of her dance music — she’s doing some restaurant work and the pieces needed a bit of editing.
Tuesday was another game night back at Sean’s. We brought Casey again, and discovered that the girls had been “playing Casey” all week (I can only imagine what that entails…). Iris refused to go to bed except in “the dog bed” (actually a large-ish cat bed). There was a bit of drama, and I’m not sure that Sean and Susan weren’t having second thoughts about the dog thing by the time they finally got the girls to bed. Bless them, though, for their parental perspective. We’d cautioned them that Casey had been a little less than reliable when it came to toiletting recently, and Susan promptly brought out a thick bath towel. Old hands at toilet training, what’s a little more urine ?
We left the game a bit early because our alpaca friend Andy, from Otago, was coming in on the ferry, with plans to use our place as a base for running an assortment of errands around the north island. And I think I’ll leave it there for now. Hoepfully, we can put some pictures in, and Stephen can pick up from here…