Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring is coming!

It is time to prepare the garden for the next growing season . . . which means we get to spend time OUTSIDE! The temperature rose a bit and Nonna Ear Rubs and I decided that it was time to begin making the garden ready to receive all its goodies. Now, it is still way too early to put seeds or plants in the ground, but there is still much to be done.

There are several things on the list such as pruning the trees for the first time and pruning/cutting back various bushes and plants. The trees are now going into their third year -- finally, we will be able to walk under them and only have to bend down a little instead of crouch down almost on all fours! Well, maybe not Fuzzy Face . . .

Then, there are the 'big' projects planned for this year. We have to remove a bunch of gravel from beneath the trees and create planting beds instead so the trees can breath properly; create climbing trellises in beds along the back wall for various squash vines and other climbing vegetables; and this year we are going to build a cold frame (can you say veggies all winter?) I can hardly wait. It will be hard work at first, but the rewards are going to be great!

So, day one in the yard was spent pruning and cutting back. I am happy to report that we managed to complete it all! But, you may ask, what does this have to do with Cura? Ahh . . . be patient my lovely readers -- setting the stage is everything!

Last year, Cura was not allowed in the back yard unless she was on some kind of lead. Being the little fence jumper that she was in her previous life, combined with her single wall vaulting incident over the back wall (the one with a 12-14 foot drop onto a cement sidewalk or the sharp gravel surrounding it) last year relegated her to being leashed at all times. Just before the weather turned last year, I got her an anti-jump harness, but we were only able to use it a few times. Now that we have had our first day in the back yard, I believe Cura will have many more lovely days to wander the back garden off-lead.

Of course, she was wearing her anti-jump harness the entire time, but she spent about three hours outside with Nonna Ear Rubs and me and did nothing but enjoy herself. She laid and rolled around in the Puppy Pad (a little grass bit we installed last year for the dogs) and managed to get all sorts of bits of dry grass on herself. She investigated the various cuttings that Nonna Ear Rubs and I were accumulating as we meticulously made our way from one side of the garden to the other. She selected some of the choice tree branches that were available after pruning to chew on. In fact, she and Skye played the "you walked away from it, now it is mine" game with one particular piece of wood. Neither one ever took it from the other, they just noticed when the stick was sitting alone, all forlorn and unloved, in the middle of the yard and picked it up and chewed on it and/or carried it around for awhile.

Cura was very interested in the occasional rustling noise in the raised bed under the straw (we have four-legged fuzzies wintering over in there -- but now that we are starting to mess around out there, they will likely move on soon, at least they did last year). Both dogs had a blast -- well, except for that moment that Skye got 'bit' by a plant of the prickly variety -- she didn't like that and may never go in that particular flower bed again! Cura made no attempts to go over a fence or a wall. She would look out front through the fence a few times, but just look -- no excitement, just curiosity. Needless to say, when we were finished and came back into the house, Cura and Skye both curled up and slept for the rest of the day (and yes, Cura snored, a lot). On top of all the good fresh air that day, we also ran the dogs that morning so they were done in!

Long story short, if this first day of gardening is any indication, this summer will be filled with lots of relaxing time out in the back garden -- no fence jumping, just fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Looks can be deceiving . . .

One of the things that Cura has to do a lot is lay quietly at my feet (or some other out of the way spot) and wait.  This is something that she has become very good at and she can lay quietly for up to two hours, provided she is on a comfortable surface, without needing to get up and stretch.  This comes in very handy when I am teaching in a classroom, attending a lecture, in training classes, or in a restaurant.  Frequently, Cura just puts down her head, shuts her eyes, and dozes (or the doggie equivalent).  To the outside observer, it looks like my beloved companion is out for the count, blissfully sleeping the time away.  This is simply not the case, but you would have to know her to realize this.

As I sit here typing, in my comfy chair in front of my laptop, Cura is on her fluffy, round, blue bed . . . snoring.  She did budge a little bit when I took this picture, but soon returned to her nap.  (I love the way the camera picked up the brown in her fur in this shot!)  

Usually she has the sweetest, delicate, little snore (though on one or two occasions it has reached the chainsaw level).  Frequently, depending on the surrounding sounds, no one even knows that she is snoring.  I appear to be the only one who usually notices.  My guess is that there are a couple of reasons for that.  First, I am usually the person closest to her; second, I am hyper-aware of her at all times when I am awake and frequently even when I am not; and third, there is something about her that changes when she is truly asleep and snoring -- I just 'know' that she is not keeping tabs on me.

Cura never truly sleeps (or snores) when we are out.  Even if she appears to be asleep, the moment I move her eyes are open and she is ready to jump (sometimes literally) into action.  Frequently, even if I am just shifting my position, she will look up at me -- waiting for a further signal that we are ready to move.  Actually, that is a development in her behavior.  Previously, she would just jump up whenever I moved.  Now, while she still anticipates my needs, she has learned to double check instead of assume -- it has saved her from getting up for no reason on several occasions because I need to shift my position fairly frequently when sitting for any period of time.  I too am starting to develop a new habit as a quiet way to let her know I am ready to move -- just a little tap on her shoulder blades lets her know it is time to go!  Of course, she is not always in a place where I can reach her -- but it is an addition to our 'vocabulary'.  

I always love to hear Cura snore . . . to me it signals her complete relaxation.  It means that she feels that we are in a safe place and she can let her guard down a bit.  I also find it comforting when I see her dozing at my  feet in public.  It means that, although she is still alert to any need I may have, she is sure enough in her abilities and surroundings that she doesn't have to watch everything around her.  Instead, she can put her head down, shut her eyes, and doze . . . but don't think she isn't aware of everything that is going on around her -- especially if it pertains to me!