Saturday, August 15, 2009


Blue has done something my Sustainable Business Practices teacher at UCSD would appreciate. She recently gave a lecture about zero waste, emphasizing that businesses should be concerned with their products' end of life (do they end up in a landfill, for example). The goal is for business to be like nature and aim for their products to be reused in some capacity after being no longer needed or useable for their original purpose. Hence, no waste. Nature does that. A plant grows a fruit or vegetable, an animal eats it, it sustains the animal and the animal, in turn, does the plant a favor by, err, sowing its seeds in ready-made fertilizer.

We have an example in our own backyard. When picking up some of Blue's ready-made fertilizer the other day, I saw a plant that looked a lot like a tomato plant. I thought, "that can't be." I hadn't planted tomatoes over in this shady part of the yard. They never would have grown here. But I left the apparent weed alone. A few days later, I was back at the same job and noticed several more plants like the first one. Upon close inspection, they proved to be, indeed, tomato plants. Whole clusters of them in a few areas. Upon closer inspection, their ready-made fertilizer was apparent.

So now, thanks to Blue, and his ingestion of a (purloined, no doubt) tomato, and sowing of said tomato's seeds in our yard, we will soon have a crop of completely organic, locally grown and 100 percent sustainable:


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Breaking In, Breaking Out (Part Two)

A whole readjustment of the baby gate and Blue has been successfully kept off the stairs for a whole week now. On top of that, baby-proofing devices installed on the kitchen cabinets over the weekend have kept the peanut butter and coffee filters (never did know what he sees in coffee filters) safe from him.

So much for breaking in. But breaking out has not been resolved yet. Blue has been found running loose in the neighborhood, with no apparent explanation for how he got out. We found and patched up a loose board near the backyard gate. Done and done.

Not so fast. In the backyard barbecuing last night, playing with Blue. Hear the next door neighbor lady talking to someone. "Where'd you come from?" "Aren't you cute?" "You're so playful!" "Don't you think you should go on home now?" I'm puzzled. Who is she talking to? And where did Blue go? I peek over the fence into her yard. There he is. I claim him as mine. She's sorry she doesn't know we have a new dog (she only knew our sweet little Xena, who passed away about a year ago now). We look along the fence to see how he got over there. There are some sections of it apparently just hanging by a few splinters. They sway back and forth when we touch them. A ready-made doggie dog between our yards. She says this is the second time today he's been in her yard. She's very nice about the whole thing.

I go back in the house with Blue, get a pen and write on the "to-do" list, right under the scratched off "fix gate" item, "fix fence."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Breaking In, Breaking Out (Part One)

Brute strength succeeds where Houdini-esque techniques fail, in Blue's world. It's not often Blue has to resort to using his muscles over his mind to get in somewhere in wants to be or out of someplace he doesn't. Usually, he can finesse the baby gate lock and get upstairs with a minimum of effort. But after we tightened things up on the gate, he got fed up with trying to get in using his usual finesse and simply rammed the thing. It came crashing to the ground. Mission accomplished, Blue ran up the stairs and greeted me with a furiously wagging stump tail and a wildly grinning face. We keep putting it back up, but he either opens it with his little dog fingers (I swear they are fingers he has, not paws) or says to HE** with niceties and barges through. It's not such a catastrophe when we're around to control him upstairs, but turn your back on him and you're in trouble. Worse yet, run to the store in the morning before your son gets up and come home to Blue contentedly chewing on one of the only other pair of shoes that goes with your favorite suit (having eaten one of the first pair that went with the suit a couple of months ago). I imagine him going into my closet, looking at all the pairs of shoes on the shelves and saying to himself, "Hmmm, now which of these is the most expensive/hardest to replace/best loved?" THAT one! (It's always just one of the pair; he doesn't want to seem piggy.) This morning, he picked the lock, came upstairs, jumped in bed with us and snuggled himself under my husband's arm. We should have been upset with him, but found ourselves saying, "Awww..." Like I said before, he's lucky he's so cute.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On this week's menu...

I was told Blue should have about one-and-a-half cups of his dry dog food twice a day. Blue doesn't agree. Yes, he'll eat that, too. But he likes to supplement.
This week, he ate:

-- 1 tennis shoe
-- His own poop
-- 1 role of toilet paper
-- 1 orange with peel (a failed attempt)
-- 1 (as far as I know) pen
-- Another dog's poop
-- The back of an upholstered living room chair

A pretty light week for him, actually.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All About Aussies, Part 2

Did I mention they like to herd? They'll herd you, too. Little nips at the ankle will keep you moving along nicely. You're especially attractive if you're wearing socks. In fact, socks are especially attractive with or without you in them.

Australian Shepherds are loyal. They will follow you everywhere. That is a very endearing trait for the most part. Except in the beginning, when being separated from you, even though you are in the same house, leads to whining. Which isn't helped by the fact that pulling carpet loops loose in the upstairs rooms turns out to be one of an Australian Shepherd's favorite things -- one that can only be stopped through the installation of a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. Cue whining. But only for a minute, because he's opened the gate and is once again here by your side where he belongs. Hey look -- carpet loops. Mmm.

All About Aussies, Part 1, or If you knew that going in, why are you surprised now?

Australian Shepherds are extremely intelligent. Which is great, except that they are so smart they can figure things out you wish they couldn't. Like how to get in the cupboard, roll the peanut butter jar to their bed and actually get it open. Three times. "That dumb smart dog" has been muttered around here with a mixture of admiration and anger quite frequently.

Because they were bred to herd, they are naturally very active. Combine that with the smart factor and you have a dog who gets bored easily and knows what to do about it. If you don't keep an Australian Shepherd busy, he'll find a way to keep busy. And you'll be sorry. And your grocery bill will go up as the cupboard and countertop raids expand in scope to include crackers, cereal, bread, tomatoes, strawberries, avocadoes and bananas (a whole bunch just today).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Introduction: He's lucky he's so cute.

Blue is an Australian Shepherd that came into our lives on Valentine's Day. We adopted him from the San Diego Humane Society when he was 13 months old. His previous family had given him up after only six weeks because he was too aggressive with one of their children, meaning he had an unhealthy attraction to their leg.
In the paperwork the Humane Society had on Blue, his old family said they had rescued him from his previous owner. I'm still not clear on what that meant. Knowing that he hadn't had the best upbringing, and that he was being surrendered for behavior problems, and that we knew that Australian Shepherds could be a handful AND that the Humane Society required us to meet with a trainer before we could take him home because of all this, we adopted Blue anyway.

As I have found myself saying ever since, he's lucky he's so cute.