Friday, February 29, 2008

Waiting for Spring.....Sigh....

No matter how many times I bounce around and look hopefully at the door and at my leash, I simply cannot get my people to take me on a walk when it's cold outside. A few days ago, it was sunny and pretty warm, so my partner and I did take a short walk, and I got to say hello to my neighbor Macy (a Saint Bernard) and this old beagle who always runs down his driveway to bark at me. I would think that a dog as old and as fat and as short as he is, would think twice about challenging me, but he does. I don't know why I'm not allowed just to pounce on him and put him in his place, but my partner won't let me. Hmphh! Macy and I always sniff noses and then we bounce and woof a little, but it's all just bluster. We both like to pretend we're tough dogs. Oh, I do hope Spring comes soon. The robins are already here. Spring can't be too far away. I can't wait!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winning Friends

Now, I'm no expert, but I saw this suggestion on what must have been one of those self-help web sites, so I thought I'd post it. It just goes to show how important it is to give a gift that the other person will truly value!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Ginny invites you to write to her with your questions...... [Submit them as a comment on one of the "Ask Ginny" posts and Ginny will repost them in a new post segment.]

Q & A about health, veterinary
matters, training, and life

Q: Dear Ginny,

I have a dog who is generally well house-broken, but whenever my husband comes home and greets her, she pees right on the floor. I have scolded her, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. What can I do?

A: The reason it doesn't help to scold her is that you are not dealing with a house-training problem. What your dog is doing is called "submissive urination." In the language of the dog pack (which all dogs feel a part of), the lowest dog(s) of the dominance hierarchy shows certain body language to indicate respect and submission to a dominant dog in the pack. This includes putting the ears back, lowering the head, averting the eyes, presenting the groin region, and urinating slightly. Because submissive urination is a way to showing respect to the "top dog," any reinforcement of dominance will just encourage submissive displays, such as urination. Scolding just reinforces dominance, so will induce even more submissive urination. In a dog's mind, dogs don't become members of our family; we become members of their pack. Therefore, we must understand dog language, which is primarily a language of the body. Greeting times in the dog pack, such as when your husband comes home from work, are times when the hierarchy is reinforced. The most effective thing you and your husband can do is to be very low-key when he gets home. Even though it's difficult, he should ignore your dog altogether until the excitement is past. He should avoid direct eye contact and avoid bending toward her. Both these gestures are dominant gestures in dog body language. If you and he are reluctant to give up an excited greeting, then just put down a mat at the front door, which you don't mind getting urine on. However, be sure to pick it up after the greeting is over, since you don't want to confuse the dog and have her go back to that spot and think it's all right to pee on it again.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"When Hedgehogs Fly"-Daydreams-Part 3

I suppose it's a good thing that I have such a vivid imagination, because I do like being able to continue daydreams at will.
They were going up and up for what seem like forever. Piggy still had his eyes closed, but when he sensed Harmon slowing down, he opened one eye just a crack and saw that they were approaching a big, flat field near the top of a mountain. With a sickening swoop, Harmon deposited him surprisingly gently onto soft grass. Piggy unrolled himself and stretched out all four legs and every quill. He went to join his two companions, who were also stretching out after the long flight. The captain of their unit stepped onto a nearby log and cleared his throat. "The purpose of today's exercise is to learn the basics of rolling. Hedgehogs are unique in this ability, but rolling with precision takes practice. Hedgehog armaments are non-lethal weapons, used primarily as distractors, to disrupt enemy ranks. The roll is maximally effective if your quills are pointed backward during the rolling phase and, at the last minute, as you give your body a quick twist, you point your quills forward for the moment of impact. At this speed and rotation, quills won't embed in the enemy, but they will inflict a nasty enough scratch that the troops toward which you are rolling will do everything they can to avoid you. Today, each team will learn just the Release-And-Roll. This field is perfect, since the grass is short and there are very few bumps and rocks. Hogs, approach your partner and turn so you are facing away. Roll up so your front legs are close enough to your partner's legs to grasp each one just above the talons. You hold on only long enough for him to get airborne. He can hold onto your wrists with a grip that is much more secure than you would be able to maintain by yourself. Hawks, you will fly toward that large pine tree at the north end of the field; then circle around and fly back toward this spot. Make your release about three inches from the ground, opposite this log. Hogs, to avoid injury, maintain your roll-up until you have come to a complete stop. I will go first, with my partner Willy, so you can watch. Then I want you to try it. Here we go.........

I came out of my reverie by hearing the mail car stop in front of the mail box. I was curious to know more about these "hedgehog bombs," but it was going to have to wait.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Virginia visits Virginia

It does seem like a good thing to be visiting the state after which I was named. My humans and I arrived in Staunton, VA, last night, after a rather boring trip, during which I spent the entire time in my travel crate. We did stop and walk around a few times, but, all in all, it was quite dull. We are here to visit my main human's mother, who is 89 years old. I have to be careful around her, because I don't want to knock her over. She is not very big. We went for a walk this afternoon and I got to do one of my favorite things, which is to show my human how to get back home. We walked about 10 blocks and made at least 5 different turns. I'm sure that this human cannot smell well enough to have found the way back. Anyway, at the end of the walk, I was told, "Let's go home," and I went into work-mode. These tasks are so easy that a puppy could do them, but my humans need me, so I pretend that it is difficult, just so they don't feel inadequate. All I have to do is to put my nose up and sniff the breeze and it's a piece of cake. It's a little harder if the wind is at our backs, but that doesn't mean I can't do it. I just have to be more careful and check a few scent pockets around bushes and walls. Anyway, we were home in no time. My human always acts so proud of me when I do this. It's worth it to pretend that I have to work at it!

Photo credits:
Left = from;
Right =

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Words of Wisdom

I heard my person read this out loud. Someone sent it by e-mail and it definitely needed to be shared!

----- A Dog's Purpose, (from a 6-year-old)

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life-- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
--When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
--Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
--Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
--Take naps.
--Stretch before rising.
--Run, romp, and play daily.
--Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
--Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
--On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
--On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
--When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
--Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
--Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
--Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
--If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
--When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
--Be always grateful for each new day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Sisters are Soooo... Cute!

Here are some recent pictures of my sisters, from Ground-Hog Day---How appropriate!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

ASPCA Guide To A Pet-Friendly Valentine’s Day

I want to share with you this helpful article from the ASPCA on how to have a pet-friendly Valentine's Day.

Multi-Tasking in the Animal Kingdom

This morning, while my humans were eating, I heard one of them make an odd comment........ He said, "Look how only one of Ginny's ears turned toward you when you went into the kitchen, while the other one stayed turned toward the television." What did he expect?--There was a 2-hour special interview with Eddie Murphy on Bravo--You know, Dr. Doolittle?! (A dog hero, if I ever met one!). Of course I'm going to keep listening. Even so, that wasn't what he was surprised about. He seemed surprised that I could listen to two things at once. That's like being surprised that a human can use his hands and his feet when driving a car. I have two ears--It seems mighty obvious to me that I could use them for two different things. This, my friend, is just simple multi-tasking. Not that I want to sound negative, but humans are always thinking that they are the only species with any real talent. Well, let me give you a few more examples: (1) Dogs can separate out individual odors, when they are mixed, whereas humans smell only one conglomerate; (2) Crabs use their large claws for both tools and weapons; (3) Elephants use their trunks not only for smelling (obviously), but also for scratching, bathing, drinking, moving objects, and play-wrestling; and (4) (This one's my favorite!) Dolphins and whales sleep with one-half of their brain at a time!--Take a look at this web page to read about this:

"On land, human beings and other mammals breathe involuntarily: If we don't make a decision to breathe or not to breathe, our body will take in air automatically. Because of their undersea environment, whales and dolphins must be conscious breathers: They have to actively decide when to breathe. Consequently, in order to breathe, they have to be conscious. This presents a problem, since mammalian brains need to enter an unconscious state from time to time in order to function correctly (see How Sleep Works to find out why this might be).

"There's plenty of time for a dolphin to catch a catnap between trips to the ocean surface, of course, but this isn't a viable option. When you're a conscious breather, it's just not feasible to be completely unconscious -- what if you don't wake up in time? The solution for whales and dolphins is to let one half of the brain sleep at a time. In this way, the animal is never completely unconscious, but it still gets the rest it needs.

"Scientists have studied this phenomenon in dolphins, using electroencephalography. In this process, electrodes hooked up to the head measure electricity levels in the brain. The resulting electroencephalograms (EEGs) of dolphin brains demonstrate that in the sleep cycle, half of the dolphin's brain does indeed "shut down" while the other half is still active. Researchers have observed that dolphins are in this state for approximately eight hours a day."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Now There's a GPS Locator for Dogs

I heard of an interesting new product to help owners find lost dogs. It's a GPS tracking collar for dogs. I've heard about wild animals getting radio collars so that researchers can track their movements, but imagine a dog wearing a collar like that. I guess it's not quite like the ones the wild animals wear, because this one is not a real radio. Even so, it makes it so that a dog like me can be found if we get loose and go off some where to have a good time. I heard a crazy story about my sister Dixie getting lost in a blizzard last year. She was lost for 3 days and was found 10 miles away from home, frantic and exhausted. She was located because her owner had put a story about her on the radio and a man called saying that he saw this German shepherd running back and forth at the other end of his snow-covered field, but he couldn't get near it, because it was so scared. He called the number given on the radio and, sure enough, it was my sister. I heard that when Dixie heard her owner calling her name, she went barreling toward her and leaped into her arms.

Anyway, I'm off the subject of these new collars. They are made by Zoombak and their web site information is at I have a microchip implanted under my skin, which has an advantage of not being removable, but it still has to be scanned and called into the proper place for me to be located. I like the idea that I can be located directly. I think my person is going to find out a little more about it. One thing I do know is that the Zoombak collars cost $200. (Well, really $199.99, but that's an awful lot like $200 in my book.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Something Called the Super Bowl

There were some strange goings-on at my house last night. It had something to do with a game humans play, using a football. Now, I have a football toy--in fact, I have two, although one is small and soft and yellow and squeeks a lot and the other is brown and kind of hard and used to have a rope through it until I chewed off the knots and my person-partner threw away the rope. For humans, though, a football is WAY more than just a toy.

I know that this game has been on their television before. Why everyone was in such a state about it last night was quite puzzling. I'd be nice and relaxed on my bed and then one of my humans would jump up and scream "Yes!" and other exclamations. Then, just as I was getting settled again, something else would happen--sometimes, good--sometimes, bad. All I know is, that when the game was over, I thought someone had died. In fact, I had to go sniff everyone, just to make sure they were all OK. Why can't humans be more like dogs? After all, a game is just a game, right?

Photo credits: Football--from:; hobieWithFriends--3 dogs carrying football, from

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hedgehog Day-Dreams Continue

Well.... My daydream continued this afternoon. I was staring out the glass slider and listening to the wind and freezing rain hit the window. I started drifting toward sleep and remembering the story my mind had concocted the other day. The next thing I knew, the tree branches whipping around outside started to look like large, soaring birds, carrying objects in their talons. And so, another daydream was born.

Piggy rolled up into his self-protective ball and kept his eyes closed. This time he didn't think he was about to die, but he was not about to look down at the ground! He could hear the other three hawks nearby, and then one more pair of wings, that flapped more slowly than the hawks, and he realized that Golda had taken off just after they did. In several minutes, they were in a quiet stand of stately, tall trees with huge, spreading branches. The bird that was carrying him settled onto a branch and held him gently until he unrolled himself, so that he wouldn't roll right off the branch and fall to the ground. When he was back to his normal shape and looked around, he saw that he and his hawk partner, whose name was Harmon, were lined up on one branch, along with each of the other 3 hedgehogs and their respective partners. Directly in front of them and on a slightly higher branch, was Golda the eagle.
Golda cleared her throat and addressed the hedgehogs first. "Young men. We are asking you to participate in an endeavor that could be critical to maintaining the stability of the entire human race, perhaps even of this planet. However, I want you to know that you will completely free to go after I have explained the role we are asking you to play. We want no one to stay against his will. Should you choose not to participate, your partner will take you back to where you were picked up and you will not be approached again."

The boys shifted excitedly, eager to learn what was going on. There perspective on the world had been quite limited until this point, so they were ready to begin a new adventure. Golda continued: "There are powers in the universe about which humans know very little. Some of them are very, very good and some are extremely evil. We have learned that some of the forces of evil are accumulating great strength in the far northern regions. We need to fight them before it is too late. Your mission will be dangerous, but it is vital to our success in the North. That is all I am permitted to tell you. If you choose to accept this mission, you will learn all the details, but you will be sworn to secrecy. It is imperative that humans not learn of the danger they are in, because they are totally unprepared to handle it, yet they would try. And, if they try, they will be destroyed. If you want to join with us, now is the time. Proceed toward the trunk of this tree, where we can talk more privately.
Piggy did not know what to expect from the other three, but he himself felt in his heart that he was made for this moment. Immediately, he stood up and started moving toward the trunk. One at a time, two of the other three followed. Only one stayed behind. Without another word, the hawk who had been with him lifted him gently and flew off.
After a sharp crack and a crash as a branch broke off and landed on the deck, I was suddenly fully awake. This time, I really looked forward to another day-dream. Maybe I'd find out what happened next.

Photo credits: (in order) Harris' Hawk in flight--from, Hedgehog--rolled--from, goldeneagle--from, Young hedgehog--sarabel, from, Harris' Hawk, from webshots--2107209600048216361mkSPgJ_fs, Hawk high in tree--from

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I try not to discriminate against a species that is "less fortunate" than mine.