Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...

Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...
Run Free: birthdate unknown - Oct. 17 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dog-Friendly Gallery in Dog-Friendly City

Yes, we are a dog-friendly gallery! Of course! (thanks for asking, Jake and Just Harry ... come and visit H-Mom, she would be thrilled!)

Everyone on the street is talking about planning a "Yappy Hour" for the downtown Fort Lauderdale shopping district - Las Olas Boulevard. "Yappy Hour" would feature a hundred adoptable dogs from the Humane Society, wearing "Adopt Me" bandanas; "dog specials" at the restaurants with dog-friendly outdoor seating; and, "Dogs Welcome" signs in the windows of participating merchants, along with bowls of biscuits, drinking water, and poopbags (H-Mom added that last one).

Does anyone else live in a city that does something similar? We think it would be great fun if Fort Lauderdale "went to the dogs" for a day.

H-Mom tried to think of an artist in our gallery - Las Olas Fine Arts - who paints DOGS, and she found some wonderful paintings by Dominic Besner, an incredibly talented young Canadian artist quickly earning international acclaim:

Greyhounds racing ...

Roulement de tambour pour une course de 3, Mixed Media on Canvas

Dog in a tutu? It looks like a dancing greyhound:

Tutu des Flandres, Mixed Media on Canvas

There was an awesome huge painting with three Borzoi in the background, but H-Mom cannot find the image. The gallery represents very contemporary artists. The best thing about the gallery, from a dog's point of view, is the highly polished cement floor - always cool when it's hot outside!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Meeting of the minds

Will these two have a meeting of the minds? Is there an uneasy truce? Is the teenager becoming a "pack leader" or least a 2nd lieutenant? Can Booker ease into the position of dog ... #1 dog ... BUT dog.

I have to sell a couple paintings at the gallery so that I can hire our trainer/guru/behaviorologist. Argh. It is a very slow month, and add the economic woes to that. Where are our Europeans with good taste in contemporary art and happy Euros?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Help on the way

Well H-Mom got home from the gallery late last night and Booker's blue cushion was moved BACK into Samantha's bedroom.

The meeting with Mark, our prospective behavior/training consultant, evidently has turned someone's opinion around. She has undug her heels and uncrossed her defiant teenage arms.

The three of us sat in the living room to talk - Mark told us about the philosophy of Sit Means Sit. Booker clambered onto the sofa and curled up quietly right behind Samantha, his muzzle up against her thigh. Booker sighed and fell asleep.

"He's obviously a very sweet dog, with a calm, loving disposition," was Mark's observation. He listened to Booker's history. "The one thing that you have to know is that dogs live in this
moment, going forward," he emphasized. "Booker doesn't hold grudges. He isn't still angry at you about the kitchen towel. He has forgotten that he bit you. You have to go forward."

Mark talked for awhile about dog behavior in general. Booker may have had a tough start, an abusive past life, starvation and fear, but he is well-cared for now, his stomach full, his bed soft. THIS is Booker's reality, and he needs to be taught, with no hesitations, how he needs to behave to conform to OUR lifestyle today, going forward.

Sit Means Sit uses non-forceful (no yelling, no punishment) verbal commands with a stimulus collar -- very light attention-commanding "buzz" almost like clicker training. Mark gave Samantha and I a demonstration with his dog, a giant German Shepard. Astounding. That dog was regimented, perfection, frightening ... we don't need Booker to be that kind of dog, but 1/4th ... gee ... 1/8th of that would be a gift.

As everyone who knows dogs has commented, Booker is testing us constantly, pushing around his will for premiere pack-position and trying especially to bully Samantha.
She is a sweetheart, a gentle soul, a lover of small rodents and lazy cats. Booker is really new territory for her and she needs to learn how to interact with him, as much as Booker needs to learn his boundaries.

Some observations from Mark included:
  • Booker was a hunting dog in his prior life, he had a rigorous job. He needs a NEW job ... he is a dog with a temperament modeled and calmed by knowing exactly what is expected of him.
  • Aggression within the "pack" (family) is NEVER acceptable
  • Booker should obey every command without hesitation
  • Everything in the house -- food included -- belongs to the leaders, and he is allowed to have it only with permission. That includes a beef fillet laying on the coffee table. (Well, maybe the countertop, hahahaha)
  • Almost every dog is trainable, there is no reason that we should not expect that Booker cannot have perfect and trustworthy behavior at all times
  • The humans have a lot of work to do --- that would be US
Mark charges a flat fee of $690 for unlimited lifetime training. (Samantha asked me to clarify whether that is for the lifetime of the OWNER or the DOG.) We can also put together a package that deals directly with Booker's aggression/bullying issues, start the process of training both the family (especially Samantha, who is very receptive to input from Mark) and the dog, and then go from there.

P.S. Thank you everyone for your encouraging and insightful comments. Our family team really believes that when you make a commitment, you make it and use all the resources you have to make it work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bringing in the Pro

Well. Booker bit Samantha. The quiet, gentle teenager of the house. It's not a bad bite, actually, not much more than a scratch on one finger.

But it was frightening. And Samantha, in her determined, non-flexible way, has closed her door, literally. She has had enough. Booker is high maintenance.

So tomorrow, we have an appointment with a trainer, Mark Coe of Sit means Sit. I need a different perspective. I need someone to tell me "yes, stick with it," or "you will never be able to trust this dog."

Our family has 7 months invested in loving Booker. He is a great great dog in so many ways. He doesn't chew or destroy or mess, he is crate-trained, he is housebroken. He doesn't bark inside. He walks like a dream on the leash. But I don't want to feel like I have to rationalize and "forgive" his huge failing as a housepet. He has this "cujo" demon that is not acceptable to wage upon anyone in the house. It feels dangerous at times and while I feel confident that I can deal with it, I do not live alone.

I am thinking good thoughts for the rescue -- the TOTAL rescue -- of Booker. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Meanwhile, the small human is barricaded in her room.

Something to prove

Booker got wind (with his hound-dog nose) of a rumour about his less than manly behavior during recent fireworks and thunderstorms.

This morning, he hit the dog park with something to prove.

It took less than 5 minutes for him to determine that a raccoon was up a tree. He then opted to spend his park-hour aggressively trying to dismantle the banyan, climb it, or get someone to SHOOT the 'coon.

H-Mom gave up trying to coax him away from the tree. "If that's how he opts to spend his
time at the dog park, let him at it," she said.

"At least it's good cardio," a friend observed.

After an hour, he had to be snapped into his prong collar and led away, howling, from the park. His frustration was tangible.

Booker was so wiped out, he couldn't even stand for the car ride home. The photo is blurry because he was panting heavily.

Please, don't infer that Booker is a coward, or less-than-worthy hunting partner.

At least not within earshot ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Excellent Camouflage

Boy this guy had terrific camouflage. He almost matched the tree. Rick just about grabbed him when he was "rubbing the trunk" to dislodge little lizards for Davis to chase. We left this prehistoric-looking creature alone. He was almost a foot long and no one wanted to clean up guts or pull his carcass out from between Davis' teeth. If Rick would have grabbed it, he probably would have jumped a mile and H-Mom would have screamed. She's not scared, just easily surprised.

It was thundering all morning while we were at the dog park. No rain, big noise. Booker is having minor panic attacks, ever since the Fourth of July. The rumbling in the sky had him hanging close to H-Mom all morning. He was whining and acting a little agitated. It was a bit embarrassing in front of the all the other dogs, who didn't even look at the threatening clouds, and their humans, but everyone was very understanding.

We are beginning to suspect that his first "home" in South Carolina determined that Booker wasn't going to be much of a coon-hunter. He is a natural tracker, knows how to "tree," and has a great choppy tracking bark. But, the sound of a shotgun might have sent him running to the next county. Or perhaps he associates neglect and abuse with loud explosions. Whatever it was, it's a bad memory for Booker, and he has been having some Post-Traumatic Stress for the past two weeks. If there is a loud BANG, he melts into the picture of a dog under heavy military attack. He cannot get home fast enough, his tail between his legs, slinking furtively along the pavement, until he is safe behind the condo's Hurricane-rated (and sound-proof) windows.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Name Game

Booker was tagged by Brandy to play the NameGame. Here goes:

What is your name?


If you could change your name, what would it be?

Booker P. Washington. It's much more formal and has a dignified air.
Although, those of you who know me, KNOW what the "P." stands for.

What is your pet's name (it can be a webkinz or a real pet)?

My imaginary pet is CatDog.

If you could change your pet's name what would it be?

DogCat. The DOG would have to come first.

What is your brother or sister's name?

As far as I know, I am alone in this world. It is a lonely world, like a CatDog world. Except for my forever family, of course, which includes Samantha, who is kind of like my H-Sister, although she wholly disapproves of any hint of anthromophism. This would probably include my referring to her as "H-Sister." She believes that H-Mom is obsessed in a most unhealthy and frighteningly tenuous manner.

If you could change their name, what would it be?

Ahhhhhhhhhhh .... how about SamCat? meowwwwwwwwwwwwww ...

P.S. We will defer the tagging to those in the know. Our circle is growing, but still quite limited and we see that many have already been tapped to play the Name Game!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


H-Mom is obsessed.

At least that's what David says. She bought a little bag that clips on the leash. It's for carrying poopbags and a tiny ziplock baggie of treats for bribing Booker into good behavior or rewarding him for things well-done. This is by "Bella Bags" and she found it at our favorite place for shopping, The Doggy Store in Fort Lauderdale.

Little things make H-Mom so happy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fairy Ring

A Fairy Ring appeared magically overnight in the park where we walk every day.

It was beautiful, a symphony of giant, sparkling white mushrooms. H-Mom doesn't know what kind they are, but she thinks they are a poisonous type from what she found on the Web. Anyway, we didn't touch them. The ring was too pretty.
Some people say that a Fairy Ring is bad luck, but others say that it predicts very good fortune, and might even be a sign that there is hidden treasure! In folklore, Fairy Rings are said to be the place where elves gather at night to dance.

When H-Mom was growing up in France, she knew lots of people who went "mushrooming" on the weekends. People are very brave to eat wild mushrooms -- we would hesitate to taste them even if they were collected by an "expert." We will stick to buying our mushrooms at Publix.

Wild mushrooms are plentiful in South Florida in the summer, which is our rainy season. They appear when a few days of heavy rain are followed by dryer, sunny days. This is exactly what the weather as been this week. Golf courses are not very keen on them, as they pop up very quickly and ruin the "look" of the course by creating a circle of dead grass or discoloration. Lawncare resources call Fairy Rings a "disease."

Booker didn't smell anything interesting in our Fairy Ring, so we didn't disturb a thing. Maybe the fairies will come back and dance again tonight.

It looks more like magic than "disease"!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Look what H-mom and the H-mans spotted at the dog park this morning. None of us dogs noticed it, which is really good because Rick's Golden Retriever, Davis, is lizard-crazy. Davis chases them and KILLS them. He is fast - a lot faster than most lizards! This isn't just a "regular" little Florida lizard. It is a green iguana hatchling. Can you see the markings on his tail? He was hanging onto the fence really tight and not moving at all. He was bright green, which is the only reason anyone saw him at all. He should have been hiding in the trees. There, he would blend right in.

Iguanas are not native to Florida, but they do very well if they make it out of captivity and into the wild. They are not protected because they have overrun many areas. They dig holes in gardens, undermine seawalls and eat vegetation. In the garden, they make a huge mess. Last summer, Fort Lauderdale authorities encouraged homeowners to "humanely dispose" of iguanas found in their yards. A heavy shovel was recommended. They are not aggressive, and usually run from people or animals, but they can deliver a wicked bite, have very sharp claws and can SLAM you with their long tail. They can grow in excess of 5 feet.

H-Mom just loves a "nature moment." She whipped out her phone and was taking pictures! She has lots more of this guy, but this is the best one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Negatively No Dogs

This looked like a really really good spot. Booker sniffed, he circled, he sniffed, he circled and then he dumped.

Well, Booker can't read. And can you SEE the sign in the photo above, anyway?

Thank goodness H-Mom always carries bags. She is diligent about leaving no trace of our visits.

That is one of our pet peeves. Or, you could say, peeves about pets. It's simple enough to "pick it up" and really part of being a responsible and courteous dog owner. There are trashcans AND bag dispensers on almost every block along our walking paths. Even in the park. Just because WE enjoy the company of a dog, doesn't mean we want to step in YOUR dog's mess! It is unbelievable how many people pretend that they haven't noticed what their dog is up to. Even at the dog park. Can you believe that H-Mom walked over to one man and HANDED him a poop bag? HAHAHAHAHAHA, she said, "Everyone here helps keep our park clean for everyone else."

H-Mom's idol, Victoria Stilwell, agrees: A War in the Neighborhood.

H-Mom wants to say to everyone, "Good morning ... and THANK YOU for picking up after your pooch!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Condo Coonhound

Listening for the elevator to stop on "19" with that bing

Sitting politely on the elevator to get to "G"

Exiting and entering through the service entrance as requested

Of course, with that coonhound nose,
Booker can even find the correct door in a long, monotonous hallway

Rainy Season

In southern Florida during the rainy season, the weather usually moves fairly quickly from the west to the east, so if it's raining by Man-Dad's office, he calls and then we know that if we want to get a good walk in, we better get moving.

If this is what the sky looks like, we pick up the pace to get our business done. Sometimes you can see the rain coming, it's a sheet of gray coming down from the dark clouds to the ground.

Fort Lauderdale is known as the "Venice of
America" because there are more than 300 miles of navigable water, including the Intracoastal Waterway, the New River and a myriad of canals, working their way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Everglades.

We live right on the New River, and one of the best
dog walks is along the Riverwalk, which runs a few miles along both the south and north sides of the New River, in downtown Fort Lauderdale. We cross the drawbridges at Andrews and at 3rd to get around, which makes downtown living convenient even though the New River passes right through the city.

We start out by going under the drawbridge.
If it starts to pour, we can hang out there for a bit so we don't get soaked. We walk up one side of the New River.

Then we have to walk over the drawbridge. The cars and trucks make a very odd, deep rumbling noise when they drive over, but Booker is very tolerant. It's easy to be happy when you are going for a walk, as long as there i
s no thunder!

We walk back down the other side, and over another drawbridge. If there is a tall boat, the bridge goes up and everyone has to wait. Booker thinks that part is very boring, and it's usually at the end of the walk when we are both dragging from the humidity anyway. Note the huge yawn ...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Deep Seated Issues

Booker is doing much better around other dogs when he is on-leash. He is being calm, walking quietly and doing his best to not "pitch a fit." That would include barking, growling, lunging, howling and leaping around. And more howling.

These three dogs send him into fits of mania, though. What is up? Maybe memories, and old deep-seated issues? Did one of these guys steal his dinner on a regular basis?
Pick on him and bite his ears? Bully and berate him?

If you look like any one these three, kindly keep your distance. No offense, we just don't get it and Booker's not talking.

Pet Crazy

H-mom is watching Animal Planet. She should be exercising, but she is procrastinating. Of course, she just spent an hour power-walking with Booker, so that counts for something.

Still, the DVD is in the player and she needs to get to it.

Animal Cops is on TV. They said that at the Humane Society of Broward County, 1000 people visit every weekend looking for a pet to adopt. The Humane Society places over 8000 animals a year. The narrator said, "South Floridians are pet crazy."

Crazy? HEY! That's a good thing!

Now, about that exercise ...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Inhumanity of Man

When Maple Sugar first appeared on the ABTCR site, I was enchanted. Look at her face. Look at those eyes. What a gentle soul this dog seemed to have. She needed saving, critically.

"How about a bloodhound?" I asked David, only half kidding.

I keep flirting with the thought of a second dog, and I know that it would be a hound. The thought of two dogs in a condo is daunting. Impractical. Insanity. Still, Maple Sugar had a hold on my imagination. Then she disappeared from the Rescue site. "Wonderful," I thought, "she has been adopted! She wasn't meant for us ..."

I read this the other day. It is heartwrenching. David teared up when I relayed it.

"Maple Sugar is at peace. She was a red Bloodhound who spent almost all her life tied up and forgotten. Finally at 2 years of age, her owner abandoned her to fend for herself. Maple had a long road ahead in her recovery from chronic emaciation and heartworm disease, but she maintained a very loving and gentle personality and was so grateful for any small kindness. Maple experienced the joys of a soft bed, regular meals and love for the first time in her life during her short time in foster care. She gave up her struggle today, while being held by her foster mom."

Some of these gorgeous dogs can be saved. For some it is just too late. Who could be so cruel as to let this happen to a living creature? Furious, sad, astounded ... there is no list of words expressive enough ...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Evidence of an Escape Plot

Booker has been really well behaved lately, when left alone at home. With the exception, of course, of the "Ham Salad Incident." We go out the door and he curls up on the sofa.

Yesterday H-Mom left to open the gallery a bit before 10 a.m. Booker had an hour at the dog park and a brisk walk before she left. Then he hung out with Samantha and got another walk before she headed out around 2 for her internship job.

Was all quiet? No complaints about barking. The anti-bark citronella collar is very effective.

When H-Mom and Samantha got home together around 4:30, the front door was unlocked. She turned to Samantha. "That's weird, did you lock up when you left?"

"I think so," Sam nodded. Samantha is very diligent and extremely security-conscious. It's not like her to leave the door unlocked.

We went in. Booker was very pleased to see us. Goofy, silly pleased. He was
acting odd. He was acting guilty.

This is what we discovered:

Scratch marks by the front door. The paint is chipped and marred with nail trails. Note how the door would be easy for a crafty dog to unlock - you just push down on the lever and then on the handle. He got it unlocked, but not open. That didn't work, so he moved to try his new technique on another.

Look at this! Light coming through. H-Mom's bedroom door is open a crack! Booker pushed the handle down and let himself in!

The pillows and throw are mysteriously messed up. Are those pawprints on Man-Dad's side of the bed? Guess all that attempted breaking and exiting deserved a nap!

H-Mom and Samantha tried really hard not to laugh. Naughty dog! What if he would have gotten out the front door and into the hallway? Would he have gone and waited for the elevator? Next time everyone is gone, he will be in his kennel, where he can't get into mischief and plot an escape.

Where did Booker go? Seems he is hiding behind the sofa.