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The alpha and the hungry August 30, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in older son, pets.
Tags: alpha, animal behavior, , ,




The older son mentioned at dinner that dogs equate food with love.  This was, of course, a response to Gigadog trying to stick her nose on the table to horn in on our Friday night pizza.

Wanna share that? I'm kinda hungry.

Wanna share that? I’m kinda hungry.

I said that actually, he wasn’t that far off.  The alpha dog of a pack is actually supposed to determine what it is that the pack hunts for and, in a sense, is responsible for providing the pack with food.  Therefore, it sort of makes sense that food and love are equivalent in dogs.

After a brief pause, I said that Teradog was a prime example of a good alpha given he really knows how to look forlorn so that the human will provide the pack with food.  In that sense, he’s a very highly successful alpha dog.


This prime newfoundland specimen is on the hunt for treats…


And you thought puppy dog eyes were all about being cute…

My dog blows (her coat) June 22, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in pets, photography.
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Newfoundland dogs have this funny habit of losing their undercoats a couple times a year, something people refer to as “blowing coat.”  I suspect this is because fur ends up everywhere: it’s not unlike blowing insulation into your attic.  Teradog doesn’t do it so much, but Gigadog definitely does.  She seems to do this twice a year: once in summer and once in winter.  (I don’t understand why she loses undercoat in January, but I suspect it’s because she’s inside an awful lot.)  Anyway, to get an idea of what this looks like, I’ve included a picture.  This is one of about a dozen groomings she’s had in the past 3-4 days.


As you may be able to tell, she’s pretty relaxed.  She seems to enjoy being brushed (I think this losing of the undercoat makes her itch).  Teradog, on the other hand, hates being groomed.  I suspect it’s because he wasn’t groomed much before we got him.  He also has a much more cottony coat which is prone to clumping and tangling, and he’s had problems with skin infections in the past.  Because we simply can’t get him to cooperate with regular grooming, he gets a shave in the beginning of every summer.  I do keep trying to get him acclimatized to regular brushing, but we’ve not had much luck.  It’s too bad, though, because I really enjoy brushing the pups.  Either way, I think it looks funny because even though he’s about 40 pounds heavier than Gigadog, she looks bigger with a full coat.


Wordless Wednesday: Newfie Nose April 30, 2014

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How Newfs are like toddlers January 25, 2014

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A friend recently was asking about some of the behavioral characteristics of Newfoundlands.  My description was basically that they’re big, fuzzy toddlers.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it was.  I figured I’d elaborate on many of the similarities.

1 – They need naps.  (If they’re not moving, they’re probably napping!)

2 – They drool a lot.  If you’re smart, you have bibs on hand.

3 – The best way to understand something is to stick it in your mouth.

4 – Even though they’re potty trained, you still have to clean up messes regularly.

5 – They’re happy to see you when you get home.  They can come running up to you and cause you to lose your balance in their excitement.

6 – They are very sad when you leave, and there is no way to assuage the guilt.

7 – They make messes.  Lots of them.  Carpets and upholstered furniture aren’t safe.

8 – You need to be concerned when they’re too quiet (sneaking food and taking it behind the couch, anyone?).  Conversely, they’re terrifying when they’re really loud.

9 – Some of them really hate it when you brush their hair.

10 – They have ways of letting you know that no one could ever love you more than they do.

Anyone else have some they can share?

Wordless Wednesday: In honor of national dog day August 28, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, pets, photography.
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couch rainier_front slime frosty







Nothing to do July 20, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, Fargo, pets, societal commentary, younger son.
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I’m always amazed at people who tell me that they could never live in North Dakota.  Usually their reasoning is that there’s, “Nothing to do.”

I have to admit that I’m flabbergasted by this statement.  The last time I remember being bored was in grade school.  I do realize that being a parent changes things and keeps you busy, as does home ownership.  I also run or bike three times per week, usually get together for lunch or coffee with friends once to twice per week, write a blog (*ahem*), and, for the summer, am trying to help the younger son with his garden.  This all goes along with that job thing.

Beyond that, however, I have still managed to keep myself plenty busy.  While I am currently on hiatus from most of my hobbies because of that dissertation thing, there are several things I would have liked to have done this past week if time would have been available:

  • electronics hobby group, so I could finally learn to use my Arduino
  • dog training classes, so that Gigadog can compete in obedience trials (heaven knows she needs it) and compete as a show dog
  • there was a hike to go raspberry hunting this morning
  • the street fair was this week

During the winter, there are dance classes and cross-country skiing (or snowshoeing, if that’s your thing).  I enjoy going to NDSU basketball games.  There’s the theater and the symphony.

I would like to know is what ‘nothing to do’ would even look like.  The closest thing I can think of is getting some extra sleep.

Happy Gotcha Day, Teradog! July 7, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in pets, photography.
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Yesterday was Teradog’s Gotcha Day.  For those of you who aren’t dog parents, that’s the day you adopt a rescue dog.  On the other hand, we don’t actually have a formal adoption day as he was supposed to stick around for a couple days and then go to a longer-term foster home.  Problem is…he never left.  Yep.  We became foster failures (as many of my friends predicted as soon as I posted pictures of Teradog on Facebook).  And here we are, one year later…with a lovely pair of super drooly puppies waiting to eat their vegetable-starch porcupines because no one sells puppy birthday cakes any more in Fargo.  Somehow, I doubt the dogs noticed.




Dear runners, about my dogs… July 11, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in pets.
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It would be much easier to walk the dogs individually, but it’s awfully difficult to find the time, especially with the hot weather.  The only time I really have to take them out before the heat sets in is about 6 a.m.  So I get everyone leashed up, and we look like this.

Keep in mind…that’s an 1/8 of a ton of dog I’m holding onto.

Today, Rainier left a brown, smelly gift on someone’s lawn.  Cleaning this up is not easy while trying to hold onto the dogs.  Therefore, I get them to sit down nicely on the sidewalk, and they are pretty good about staying there while I take care of their business.

Except today…because of someone who wasn’t thinking.  After this incident, I feel it necessary to convey some etiquette to clueless joggers about dogs.  I hope they listen.

Dear runners,

If you see a dog seated on the sidewalk, please make a point to take advantage of the 8 feet of boulevard to your left.  Only an idiot or small child runs up to a dog they don’t know.  Do NOT try to run directly past them.  I am not attempting to ‘own’ the sidewalk.  I am telling you this to keep you (and me!) safe.  If nothing else, try to remember that running on grass is better for your knees, so you can at least give your knees a break.

1 – Running up to a dog you don’t know is stupid.  Not all dogs are friendly to strangers.  If you run up to a dog you don’t know, they could very well turn around and bite you as they may think you’re attacking them.  I hope not…but some dogs are that way.

2 – Running sets off a chase instinct in many dogs.  If they didn’t have an inclination to go after you before, they very well may after they see you running away.

3 – A dog who is friendly may also be excitable, and you running up to the dog is likely to result in that dog jumping on you.  I can tell you that having 100 lbs. of excitable fluff jump onto you can be an unpleasant experience.

4 – Running up behind a dog is stupid because, even if those dogs are super friendly with people (like mine are), you may spook them (like you did today), and they may take off running (like they did today).  This may result in the person who didn’t see you because she is attempting to pick up poop either having her arm yanked out of the socket or nearly pulled over.  All I can say is that I am glad Rainier really doesn’t move fast because he was a great anchor when Gigadog decided to check out these interlopers.

Now that I have clearly established reasons why you were not doing the brightest thing today, I can assure that I will continue to take my dogs to sit on the boulevard and let you pass.  I realize not all people like dogs, and I make every effort to keep mine from accosting strangers who have no interest.  I would ask that you do the same for me, however, when I am not in a position to see you coming.



Reserve(d) Bitch June 4, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in pets, Uncategorized.
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Yes, I know I’m gorgeous.  Now put away the camera and let me eat my kibble in peace.

(As an aside, bitch does, in fact, refer to a female dog in the context of this post.  After spending the weekend using the word repeatedly, I think I’m significantly less sensitive to the other common meaning.)

Showing Gigadog this weekend was…interesting.  I actually have videos of our participation, but I’m not going to put them online in fear of people using them as primers on what not to do when showing.

First, I was worried I’d be overdressed in my most formal business dress suit.  Turns out that I blended in fairly well.  So definitely dress up for these things and don’t worry about how formal you look.  Yes, there will be people in tshirts there.  However, very few of them will be in the ring…they’re mostly spectators.

Second, it was really awesome to have someone there to help.  A friend drove from the middle of the state and was a huge help during the whole process.  When you’re sitting there, spazzing about the fact that your dog has rolled in dirt and is drooling, it’s nice to have someone who has the clarity of mind to hand you a drool rag and brush.  The second day, Mike also helped by spending about a half hour doing a thorough brushing before we left.  She looked much better.

I really had no idea what I was doing this time around, and it was obvious.  As my friend put it, Gigadog did her best impression of a bloodhound.  Given the dogs are supposed to keep their heads up and give the impression of effortless movement with their legs, we were a long way off.  The first day, I could barely get her to pay attention.  However, I’m considering it a win because she was the only one in the ring for her class, and she didn’t just plop her butt down and stare at the judge.  So…100% improvement.

The second day, I ran into someone I used to hang out with regularly.  I had no idea she was into showing dogs, and so we got to chatting.  I explained some of the problems I was having, and she attempted to give it a go.  She wasn’t having much more success, and she disappeared for a while.  She showed up a short time later with the couple who had bred her dog, and they gave me a ton of useful information and ideas.  The second day in the ring was much better as she *kind of* kept her head up.  But I also have an idea of what we need to work on in the future.

There was actually a third day, but I decided not to go.  There were supposed to be six newfs at the show, and only two of us showed.  If she at least had been able to compete against a puppy, it might have been worthwhile, but otherwise, we were just too exhausted.  She did get some ribbons.  On both days, she was the only one in her class, so she got first place for class each time.  She also got a ribbon for reserve bitch (that is, the second place female dog of all classes).  It would have been a bit more exciting if she’d gotten it with more than two dogs in the ring.

The one other thing I learned is that Gigadog, like myself, is very used to the quiet we have at home.  Spending a good chunk of the day in a noisy, busy environment was kind of tough on both of us, and I was physically exhausted from trying to keep her corralled.  She has this unfortunate habit of just running up to other dogs, not realizing that her size and dark color are very intimidating to most other dogs.  She just wants to play, but the smaller the dog, the less they see it that way.

Overall, we’re off to a pretty terrible start, but given we did a lot better the next day, I’d say we’re on the right track.  Like everything, we’ll get better with practice.

Wordless Wednesday: How much is that doggie in the window? April 18, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in photography.
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