Here a toad, there a toad…

It was raining on my predawn dog-walk this morning, and the toads were out in force.  Squatting like netsuke or hopping across the shiny pavement of the walkway, they came in sizes from the tip of my pinky to a child’s fist.  Keeping Tosh from snapping at them preoccupied me almost as much as keeping myself from stepping on them.  I sang a soft little song to Tosh, trying unsuccessfully to distract him,

Old MacIntosh had a farm
Woofwoof woofwoof woof
And on this farm he had some toads
Woofwoof woofwoof woof
Here a croak there a croak, everywhere a croak, croak

Tosh is used to us singing silly songs to him, and his long pointy nose methodically scanned the pavement, ready to pounce on a hopping creature.  Only watchfulness and a firm hand on the leash kept him from hunting the little fellows.

We managed to complete our walk with no toad fatalities, I am happy to report.

Happy Holidays to all

This morning started with some Santa Hat silliness:

Simon, modeling the Santa hat.

Some of the zoo were less into this idea:

"Do.  Not.  Want."

Dash wants nothing to do with this nonsense

And some are game for anything:

Toshie Claus

John got power tools, because he’s been a very good boy this year:

John got TOOLS for x-mas

Brian and I took a walk with Tosh:

Bri and Tosh

And all that’s left is to make and eat a fabulous dinner and wish everyone a safe, happy, and healthy new year:

Nutcracker

All the best to you and yours.

Bringing up the rear

John just about crippled himself with laughter the day Tosh let out an audible fart which caused him to whip his head around and look at his own butt as if to say, "What was THAT?"

Today he did one better.  After farting he started, jumped up, circled around to where his butt had been and commenced a thorough investigation of the scene of the crime.  I believe the theory of the brontosaurus (ehrm, apatosaurus – I was a kid in the 70′s: my brain will always hand me "bronto" first) having a second brain for his rear has been debunked in the case of dinosaurs, but it may have to be revived for our dog.

21 seconds of evil…

…expressed in a squeaky voice.

John was at a conference on the west coast for about a week.  By the day of his return, we were all more than ready to see him home.

The numbered list approach to blogging

1. Thank you, Marilee, for being the first contributor to the Poplar Springs 5k fund! Her donation coincided with a particularly fortuitous afternoon’s snaps of the Smith household animals, so here’s a photographic “thank you” from those worthies:

    awww...

    2. Thanks to: a.) the fact that my husband actually reads the Birchmere‘s occasional missives, b.) my friend Melanie’s quick response to a call to arms, and c.) my credit card, I can report that Mel, her sister and I are actually going to get to see Eddie Izzard.  (John’s not interested, but thanks for noticing he’s not included).  As my mom is fond of saying in reference to hot flashes, “Faint, but don’t fan: it’s a dead giveaway.”

    3. In other theatrical news, we’re going to see Teller’s Macbeth this weekend at the Folger Theatre.  I feel a bit ashamed to say that I have lived in the DC area for a total of over nine years and have never been to the Folger.  Cultural cretin – that’s me.

    4. Who thought of this daylight savings time palaver, anyway?  And who thinks it’s a good idea to extend it?  Clearly someone who doesn’t work for a living.  Feh.

    Point of View

    I mentioned in my last post that I had been watching a lot of Dog Whisperer.  I always hate it when I jump on a bandwagon – I tend to object on principle to buying wholesale into someone else’s world-view.  I also get a little irritated with the people who breathlessly gasp about Cesar Millan’s “miraculous” transformation of their dog’s behavior.  Even though he doesn’t seem to buy into their assessment, it’s hard to separate the man’s competence from the aura other people ascribe to him of being some sort of demigod.

    However, facts are facts: the man’s really good with dogs.  It is amazing to watch him analyze the behavior of some hard case pit bull or neurotic mutt and come out on the other end with a dog that is more comfortable in his or her own furry skin.  And every single time, it boils down to one thing: the dog is, in fact, a dog.  No matter what happens, the dog is going to look at the world through doggy eyes and assess it with a doggy brain.  I don’t care how smart your pooch is, he’s never going to evaluate the world with a human’s perspective.

    For someone who prides herself on nuance, this seems overly simplistic – and immediately, I’m down the rabbit hole again: this isn’t international diplomacy or literary criticism.  It’s a dog’s brain.  A dog’s brain is not, in fact, terribly complicated.  But it is different.  And while a dog’s brain isn’t capable of human-style analysis, a human can change their point of view to see what their dog is seeing.

    Having taken a lot of Millan’s methodology on board in dealing with Tosh, I had a dramatic example of how well this stuff works the other day.  Tosh and I were at the end of a run.  He had been leashed in to heel for almost the entire time, with a few approved sniff-breaks.  He was behaving beautifully: attentive, calm, submissive. 

    Out of another trail came two guys with three big labrador mixes: big, shaggy beasts, each at least half again as big as Tosh.  They were ranging around off leash, and they may be part of a big pack that lives just off of the trail – the kind of house you avoid if you see big furry shapes in the yard, because this is a pack that whips itself into a frenzy at a moment’s notice, and if they get over the fence, there could be trouble. 

    Two of them split off of from the group, and deaf to the yelling of their owner, came bounding at Tosh.  Without thinking, I pulled Tosh behind me and drew myself up, throwing out my free arm and spitting a loud, “TCSHHHHHHT!”  These big dogs, who had previously been focusing entirely on Tosh, looked at me, startled, then started to look back down at Tosh.  I repeated the sound and the movement.  They gave me their full attention, ignoring Tosh, and focused on the Instant Pack-Leader.  I stomped toward them, telling them, “Git,” and they bolted back to their owner (who was standing about 20 yards away and yelling like a complete fool instead of actually coming over and trying to take charge of his dogs). 

    This dog behavior stuff?  It just works.  You just have to think like a dog.

    Cute – multiplied

    Still not 100% in the old “healthy” column, but getting back a bit. I do, however, have some cute photos of my friends Miklos’ and Michelle’s first-born (second-born is due next month). Martin was terrifically intrigued by all our critters, though he was leery of Tosh at first.  He spread toddler cheer all around the place for a very pleasant evening (yes, he’s only almost three, though he looks about five).

    He angled quite successfully for the orange creamsicle cat-fish:
    Martin, fishing for the elusive Milo

    Got a consultation from Dr. Melanie on the best way to snag the critter:
    Mel, consulting on cat-fishing

    But this one has to be my favorite – you could photoshop them onto the end of a pier and it would look like they’re fishing together:
    Gone fishin'

    Milo wasn’t the only beneficiary of having a kid around the place. Tosh did his nice, patient puppy routine while Martin learned how to give a dog a cookie:
    Giggling ensued

    And was rewarded by a big game of tug (Martin had clearly gotten over his worries that the dog would eat him by this point):
    Martin and Miklos - playing with Mac

    Lest you think the humans didn’t get to have some good kid-fun too, let me dispel that notion. One of the many examples of Martin playing with the grownups, here with Yvonne:
    Playing with Yvonne

    That’s all for now.  As much as I’d like to crawl back into bed, I must head off to work.  ::sigh::

    Equal Time Request – Fulfilled!

    Marissa wants equal time for Tosh. Ah, I am in an accommodating mood this week (maybe it’s the turkey). So. Not quite so many photos, maybe, but very cute.

    Sleepy guys

    Who needs a catnap when you can have a dognap?

    Tosh and Joey

    Tosh spent Thanksgiving with his cousin, Joey. We can tell who’s all about being a star and who’s all about the turkey being prepared more or less behind his back.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Stop me before I macro again.

    There’s a group on Ravelry that has devoted itself to lolcat macros (of course there is – let’s not even pretend to be surprised, shall we?).

    For some reason, this has gotten me digging into the flickr files. And then, I have to share with you. It’s a bad cycle, but I am helpless in the lolcat thrall.

    Simon’s up first:

    Simon and zee clapotis

    (See first paragraph of this for explanation of caption)

    Then Dash:

    Dash - LOL

    Finally, Milo:

    Milo RIDES!

    …but we can’t forget the dog, can we?

    The dog gets in on the act

    I promise not to inflict these on you again. Kthanxbai.