A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.





Sunday, December 3, 2017

Another Tough Sunday

The storm that's bringing rain and snow to much of the West swept through the area this morning. It was a cold 36 degrees and rainy on our morning walk. Visible lack of enthusiasm from the dogs for being out in such weather led us to cut the walk short.
There were no objections. We made it back in the house, toweled off the pups and fed them breakfast.
After breakfast there was a doggy exodus to their warm beds, covered with blankets.The rain turned into fat snowflakes as the pups snored away the morning.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

We had a cool and rainy stretch over the last week. Early one morning I stood on the back patio, with a hot cup of coffee in my hand.
The cool and damp night had soaked the wooden backyard fence and the warm morning sun made individual rivulets of mist rise off each fence slat. I stood in stillness and watched the quiet morning scene.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, take the time to stop and savor the small scenes of beauty that the world sets just for you. It may just be a damp fence post drying in the sun, but it can be a special moment in time worthy of being thankful for. Hug your loved ones, snuggle those animals, and have another piece of pie.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sunday Morning Snuggling Seminar

Professor Snuggles hosts her Sunday morning upper division snuggling seminar. Class is invitation only.
Class is generally quiet, surely they're busy taking mental notes of the lecture.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Deaf Dog Playtime

We haven't posted a video in quite some time, and it's possible that you'll watch this blurry video and think "thank goodness".

With Alycia out of town at a conference, the girls had some extra playtime energy to burn off. Oddly, when both of us are here, they rarely play. And when I'm out of town they don't play together, it's only when Alycia is gone.

You'll notice a few things:

- Tito is not involved. He wants no part of this at all.
- My poor Birkenstock sandal somehow got dragged into the fray. I'm not sure what he did to deserve this treatment.
- At the 0:41 mark, Shadowfax attempts the butt whiparound maneuver, which Shaak Ti slips like a pro boxer. It's a good thing too, Shadowfaxs' butt is large and powerful. If that had landed we would have had to stop the action and put Shaak Ti through the concussion protocol.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Shadowfax Napping

Shadowfax was napping this afternoon, as usual.
She may have been completely asleep, but her ears weren't.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Silver Maple Tree Removal

We moved into our new house over the Summer sight unseen. Due to a number of factors we had to make do with video conferencing with our realtor, still photos and other technological means of looking at the house.
One thing that we would have noted, but probably wouldn't have precluded us from buying the house was a large tree on south facing area of front lawn that was noticeably struggling. You can see in the picture above that even in late-Summer it was only about 25% leafed out. These pictures don't do it justice, this was a big tree.

We had multiple arborists come out and look at the tree and their assessment was unanimous, it should be removed. The tree is a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and we learned that these were a popular tree decades ago and since have fallen out of favor, with some cities actually banning them from being planted.
The City of Boise website, "Species Prohibited on the Right of Way" section actually had this to say about silver maples:
This Class III species has weak wood that is prone to extensive decay creating an extreme public hazard.  The species may appear viable despite the hazardous condition. Silver maple also have shallow, aggressive roots that are more likely to damage sidewalk and curb than many other allowed species.  Species grows quickly to 70+ feet tall and wide.  Silver maple is more prone to storm damage than any species growing in Boise.
We can attest to this assessment. In the few months since we moved in the tree dropped several decent sized branches. In my experience, it's better to remove a tree on your terms rather than the trees' terms. Better to have it removed now than have something happen in the middle of the night or during a fierce rain/wind/snow event. Still, it's always a bit sad to remove a big ole' tree.

As you can see above, this left a large empty space in the front yard. This will allow a lot more sunlight into the front yard until we decide what we want to do with this space.
The folks that removed the tree needed numerous pieces of heavy equipment - a bucket truck, a crane, a chipper/dump truck, and finally a stump grinder. It took the better part of the day, but in the end all that was left was a ground out stump hole in the lawn where the tree used to be.
The tree removal crew ran all the branches, and some of the logs, through a chipper and had a dump truckload of wood chips at the end of the project. I asked to keep the wood chip mulch, so they dumped it in our driveway. I'm never one to pass up free mulch and this isn't the first time we've had dump trucks of dirt or mulch dumped in the yard. It's not the same as having a free mulch yard right down the street like I had in North Dakota, but we'll make do.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Shaak Ti Post Anesthesia

Shaak Ti had her teeth cleaned this week. It's something that she hadn't had in several years, so it was overdue. The good news from the doggie dentist was her teeth looked pretty good and they didn't need to pull any of them. Teeth cleaning requires a general anesthesia for dogs and Shaak Ti has a history of post-anesthesia odd behavior. This time was no different. It's likely that the effects of the anesthesia made her feel strange and having her teeth cleaned probably felt a bit weird too.
This is how she looked for the rest of the afternoon and evening, tongue sticking out. This is just a still photo, so it doesn't capture the audio component, she was whining loudly and squeaking the entire evening. It became tiresome after a while. By the next morning though she was back to her old self with no ill effects.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Head in the Plants

Some have their head in the clouds. Shadowfax? She has her head in the plants.
Shadowfax says "Nap hard or go home... and then have a nap when you get home."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Quarterly Tito Update

Whilst there was great interest in the pictures of our new homestead in Boise, Idaho, there's still a near constant clamoring for the red meat of the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes blog, updates on Tito.
Our recent stories about his 17th Birthday and looking scraggly while losing his winter coat were among our better received posts of late. Tito is still doing well, incredibly well in fact for a 17 year old dog. We've had to work through his medications to get the right dosage, enough so that his rate of his congestive heart failure is slowed (it's not going to get better) as much as possible, while giving him a good quality of life.

For Tito, a good quality of life means food. Initially one of his meds killed his appetite and after conferring with his awesome vet, we decided to cut back the dosage and accept slightly less efficacy for improved quality of life. His appetite returned, though he now gets ground beef and rice mixed in with his kibble. For the record, John doesn't get ground beef and rice with his kibble. Ever.
Our warm weather broke last week and we enjoyed cool temperatures and rain showers for almost the entire week. It was glorious. We celebrated the return of cool weather by breaking back out the warming bed inserts for the pups. More info from previous posts about the warming beds here. If you have older pups that have trouble getting up, suffer from arthritis, or would just appreciate a warming bed insert, we highly recommend these. It wouldn't be Fall (or Winter and Spring) without a plethora of heated dog beds.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

New House Pictures from Boise, Idaho

Finally. Finally a few pictures our new house in Boise, Idaho. We've appreciated your patience, and some photos and background story are probably long overdue for all of our loyal readers. It's been a busy summer moving and getting Alycia settled into her new office/lab at her new job.
We tried to find a house that was as old or older than our 1918 American Four Square style house in Grand Forks, ND, but the best we could manage was our 1925 built little bungalow. We're in the Boise Bench (specifically the Depot Bench) area of town, just South of downtown and Boise State University.
The house is actually smaller than our old house, but feels larger. Perhaps that's because the square footage is spread over 2 floors (a main floor and basement), instead of three in North Dakota.
 
These are pretty grand looking photos, that's because they're the pictures from the real estate listing, so they're truly showing the best side of the house. We'll have more pictures of the garden and other areas in the weeks and months to come.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fun New Dog Toy

We'll get around to posting pictures of our new homestead and garden here in Boise, Idaho eventually. For now, pictures of Shadowfax and her new dog toy will have to suffice.
You're not seeing things, that's a ball covered in unicorns farting rainbows. Alycia was at our local independent pet store and had to buy this. I applauded this. If you want one for yourself, you can find the Amazon link here.
Shadowfax really enjoyed her new ball, but wound up pooping herself out and then taking a nap in the most awkward position possible. As we've learned over the years, too much fun can take a toll. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lazy Sunny Afternoon

Sometimes pictures just speak for themselves. 
 And a day wouldn't be complete without a kiss or two.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Scraggly Tito Picture

As I mentioned in his Birthday post, Tito is shedding in droves and it looks pretty funny. 
The picture may be a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea, it looks like he's got a furry cape on. The hair literally falls off  him as he walks around, like a boat throwing off a wake of white hair. On the bright side, the sleek Tito coat underneath makes him look quite svelte.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tito's 17th Birthday

It's Tito's birthday this July! We can't be exactly sure what day, or even what month he was actually born though. As a thrice returned to the pound deaf mutt with questionable parentage, Alycia had to simply take July as the most likely month he was born and treat that as his birthday month.

Tito is 17 years old this year. Seriously. I'll repeat that since it wobbles the mind to even write it. Tito is 17 years old. Tito has been with Alycia for 16 years and (aside from Alycia) is my longest tenured non-family live in companion. He looks and acts dang good for 17. Except for a few health issues and some occasional quivering/shaking in his back legs, he's about as healthy as can be expected at this age. 

We wrote back in March about Tito's health issues, a seizure and subsequent numerous vet visits. Between his age and health issues I was afraid that a big change in his environment (moving houses) would hasten his demise. In fact the opposite has happened and Tito seems downright reinvigorated. I don't know if it's dry air, the altitude, or the sweet new backyard, but he's improved noticeably. He's still on his medication for the congestive heart failure and he still has an occasional hacking cough, but he tries to play with me, Alycia, or the other pups nearly every day and he's been going on our short afternoon walks a few times a week, even though it's 90+ degrees outside.
Aside from his birthday, Tito's other overpowering characteristic is his shedding. It's hard to tell from the picture above, but Tito is shedding like a crazy. Chunks of his undercoat are coming out and he looks even more bedraggled than normal. Even though he's deaf and has obviously lost some vision, he somehow still knows when the camera is out and this is the best picture we could get.

Tito is probably part Corgi, a breed known for shedding. Every summer he usually sheds a reasonable amount and loses some of his undercoat, but this summer has set a new standard. There are huge Tito hairballs everywhere. Swept up one day, they magically reappear the next. They aren't so much hairballs as hairboulders. Shaak Ti and Shadowfax shed as well, but nothing in comparison to Tito. Plus the other dogs will actually let us pet them and when we're outside we give them both thorough massages to get the loose fur out.
Tito being Tito though, he won't let us brush him. We have (or had) dog brushes galore, and I think even one of those Furminators somewhere, but we can't use any of them. If he just gave us 2 minutes to brush him he'd probably be much more comfortable. But we're left to try to occasionally sneak up and grab handfuls of loose undercoat. As you can imagine, he's not too fond of this technique. The picture above is one such "Tito-grab" worth of fur.
Tito looks so bedraggled and scraggly that he reminds me of these bighorn sheep that we saw a few years ago in Glacier National Park (more pictures from this old posting). It was early June and the sheep were losing their winter coast and looked very scraggly. They were bickering over something tasty that was left in the campsite fire pit, an activity that Tito would likely have been proud of.

So the next chance you get, please wish Tito a happy birthday, after all he's 17 years old. Celebrate in true Tito style: snarl viciously and unexpectedly at a loved one, snap at a stranger, urinate on something you probably ought not to, or eat way too much meat in a single sitting. Tito salutes your efforts.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Shadowfax Demands Attention

At some point in the afternoon (every afternoon), Shadowfax begins to stir from her sunbeam slumberings. She'll usually explore the backyard, patrol around the grounds, and maybe bark at some squirrels for a bit. Ultimately though she will get bored and demand more personalized attention.
Typically I'm sitting in my chair, getting some work accomplished when she'll plop her big ole pittie noggin on the footrest. This is her "Ummm...yeah, so I'm bored and want some attention now" face.
"Hold on just a second, was that a squirrel?!?!?" These are also great photos that capture Tito and Shaak Ti in the background. More on Tito in future posts, but he's about to celebrate a big birthday. 
Meanwhile, Shaak Ti sleeps through it all. Today she had a big morning of chasing squirrels and barking vociferously at them. In her defense, the squirrels have seemed to recognize that the dogs cannot climb trees and are not threat from a branch that is 8 to 10 feet off the ground. The squirrels now just sit there, taunting our poor pups. Not cool.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Shadowfax Helps with Moving

The dogs have acclimated very well to their new homestead, settling into their routine and happily making themselves at home. Shaak Ti has loved having a multitude of warm places to sun herself, and Shadowfax has enjoyed exploring her new yard and barking at all the squirrels.
We have been in the house now for about three weeks and have most of the boxes unpacked. There's still a good deal of rearranging and reshuffling to do, and a more than a few things are still waiting in the garage. We'd moved a few things out of the guest bedroom and were arranging furniture the other day. This white sitting chair had to be temporarily placed near Shadowfax's bed. She decided it was useful to have there so she could watch the goings on without the burden of having to hold her head up on her own.
Don't fret though, after a few hours, her napping spot was back to it's regular configuration and she was able to sprawl out.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Shaak Ti Soaks Up the Idaho Sunshine

It's been over a week here at our new homestead in Boise, Idaho. Alycia and the pups road trip culminated with everyone getting here safely, and Alycia's parents stayed for a few days to help us with unpacking. The dogs have made a seamless transition to the new house and yard.

Shaak Ti had a few favorite spots in the yard back in Grand Forks, like her deaf dog dirt day spa, but nothing as nice as they have here. The yard here has a large sweeping path of crushed granite and rocks that looks really uncomfortable, but apparently is great for sunbathing.
The late Spring and early Summer weather out here is perfect for sun starved sleepy pups. 80's and 90's and few clouds, nothing to get in the way of that sunbeam. Consistently hotter weather is certainly on the way later in the Summer, and we had a taste of near 100 degrees earlier in the week. It gets so hot in fact that we have to go rustle Shaak Ti from her napping once we see her panting. Sadly she's not smart enough to come in out of the sun on her own.
On top of the gravel area, there is also a large mulch area to nap on. Again, this looks uncomfortable to me, but apparently it works for Shaak Ti. In addition to the giant swaths of gravel and mulch there is grass, shaded patio, sunny patio, and a few dog beds. And if all that somehow still isn't your cup of tea, there is frequently a nice lap to sit on too. Our backyard is truly a napping paradise for our spoiled pups.
And don't worry, Shadowfax and Tito are doing just fine. Shaak Ti has felt a bit left out of the postings recently and has been clamoring for some blog space just for herself.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shadowfax on a Road Trip

Alycia and the dogs have been on a North Dakota to Idaho cross country caravan with her parents the last few days. I have followed from afar as I've stayed in Idaho coordinating movers, electricians, relatives, and others. That and wallowing in unpacking joyousness. 
Shadowfax has reportedly been very well behaved and has enjoyed the rest stops with new smells and fresh mountain air. She has also enjoyed getting to stay in dog friendly hotels and sleep on the bed. This is truly a treat for her, one usually only reserved for stays at the grandparents house or when we have to sequester in the basement at home.
On their last night in Bozeman, Montana, mighty Shadowfax stared stoically at the mountains in the distance wondering if there are going to be squirrels to chase at her new home. There are. Lots of squirrels. Shadowfax (and Shaak Ti) may not yet realize it, but they are going to be busy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

First Post from Idaho

This is our first blog post from our new house in Idaho. It's not quite home yet, since the pups have yet to arrive (a long story for another post) and all our stuff is still stuffed on a truck somewhere. We've spent the last few days camping out in the house, sitting in camp chairs, sleeping on an air mattress and coordinating various things to happen to and around the house. It's enough to make me occasionally cranky, but these are pretty good "problems" to have.
We were sitting in our camp chairs yesterday afternoon staring out the front window and noticed we had visitors in the front yard.
These ducks are all over town. We had a cup of coffee at coffee shop the other day and watched a mother duck and her three adorable ducklings. The two visitors to our house spent about 15 minutes foraging through the front yard and then made their way along. We were trying to decide if they were in the irrigation ditch in our front yard, but it didn't look like it. Yes, we have an irrigation ditch that runs along the edge of the South and West periphery of the property. Don't worry there will be plenty more on this in subsequent posts, it is fascinating. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Big News!

We have a big announcement to share. After 8 years in North Dakota, we're pulling up stakes and headed West to Boise, Idaho. Alycia has accepted a position with a university in Boise and is pretty excited at this new opportunity. We're planning on moving out there shortly and hoping to get settled in before her semester starts at the end of Summer.

It will be a bummer to leave North Dakota. It was enjoyable to be close to Alycia's parents and see them on a regular basis. We have made some great friends in our short years here, and found people who gladly accept my *ahem* eccentricities. It will be rough to leave the garden I've spent 8 years toiling in, but the sting of leaving is replaced by knowing the our new household is in Zone 6, so many new plant opportunities abound. For the first time in 8 years I didn't plant a garden this Spring, or start seeds in the basement, or take multiple trips to area nurseries. That felt very strange.

This big news is why we've been quiet here on the blog front for the month of May. Coordinating the end of two jobs, buying a house, and preparing to sell a house have taken up most of our time. Not to mention the myriad of other little things that go along with moving a thousand miles away. It's also been critical to give the dogs extra attention and love during this time of change. They know something is up and we want to give them reassurances that they're part of the moving plan.
In the meantime, we're in the midst of the actual physical moving process. The house is a mess and strangers of all sorts have been coming and going over the last month, the dogs are exhausted from having to vet and re-vet so many new people. And since most of the dog beds and people chairs have been packed, everybody gets to snuggle together on the spare bed. This seems to be a fairly acceptable consolation prize for the pups. More to come.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Shadowfax - Sleepy Face

Shadowfax generally has only two speeds. 1) 10,000 rpm of love/mischief and 2) sacked out asleep. It's rare when you get so see the immediate progression between the two, but recently Alycia was able to capture the quick transition.
Searching for trouble and/or for someone to actively love...
...trying to keep her eyes open and not really succeeding.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Garden Art?

We wanted to unveil a new piece of garden art that we had transported to the homestead the other day. Too much? Do you think it might overwhelm the garden?
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This is the current view out our front window, but this isn't a new piece of yard art. Our neighbor is a retired commercial pilot and has still flies recreationally. I'm not sure how many planes he has, but planes and/or plane parts parked in front of our house is actually a fairly regular and humerous sight. In the couple of hours that I watched over the course of the evening, several cars stopped to take pictures.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Shaak Ti Upside Down

Sometimes all you can do is sit back and bask in the majestic glory of your dogs. Shaak Ti is a prime example of that.

While some dogs nap in odd positions or may occasionally be upside down like this, she does this on a regular basis.
In this particular instance she was in a deep sleep and Alycia watched her for a minute to double check that she was breathing. She was breathing all right.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tito Health Scare

The truly old man in our house Tito has had some health concerns over the last few weeks. Don't be alarmed though, he's OK. Those of you who have had the (privilege? distinction? bad luck?) of meeting him know that Tito is a fighter, he will certainly not be going out like no sucker chump.

Tito had a seizure a week and a half ago, right in front of Alycia and I, and while it only lasted 20 seconds or so, it was pretty alarming. Even though he'd been to the vet just a month before and gotten a clean bill of health, he'll be 17 years old this Summer, so he's no Spring chicken. He probably would very much enjoy a tasty spring chicken though.

We called a different vet and brought him in for a full heart and respiratory function workup. He's also had an odd cough for the last month that has steadily grown worse. The diagnosis was an enlarged left side of his heart which was pressing on his bronchi, causing the cough. Congestive heart failure couldn't be definitively ruled in or out, but it is likely and he's going to start on some heart medication and a bronchi-dilator to try to encourage his airway to open more.

We're going to watch and monitor him carefully over the next few weeks and ensure that the side effects of the medication aren't too harsh. As for the seizure? We still don't know why that happened. As the vet said "dogs his age don't suddenly develop epilepsy", so we know that a seizure isn't a good sign. But he hasn't had any since and we're hopeful that was a one time occurrence. And Tito is still eating, drinking, going on walks, peeing on stuff in the yard, and viciously snarling at anything that moves, so he's OK for now. This photo of Alycia and Tito is from last Fall..
If you're reading this and worrying about poor Tito, don't fret, he's fine. Seriously, he's fine. Except for his cough he looks and acts the same as he always has. Alycia is doing fairly well with this whole business too. Tito has been part of her life for more than 15 years and she's given him the best life a dog could ask for. As I mentioned before, Tito is a fighter, he certainly isn't going to let something like heart or breathing problems stop him from enjoying his twilight years.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Day of Spring and Spring Cleaning

Hooray, it's the first day of Spring today! That doesn't mean a whole lot to us here in North Dakota, other than portending the likelihood of warmer temperatures eventually. It was above freezing all weekend and the backyard mud pit drained a little bit, but still has a long way to go before it's a playable surface.

We took the opportunity over the weekend to get a jump start on our Spring cleaning. The first order of business was to give all the dog blankets, bed covers, etc. a cycle through the washing machine.
It may be a blurry photo from Alycia's iphone, but you get the idea. Shadowfax did her best to get us to drop the load of fresh-out-of-the-dryer dog items on the ground so she could snuggle up with them. It looks pretty cozy.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

New Jolly Ball Rope

We recently lost the full functionality of our Jolly Ball toy, the rope portion at least. The rope runs through the middle of the Jolly Ball and makes it a much more interactive toy to play with. After several months of play, Shadowfax had pretty well shredded the rope and we just had a plastic ball left.
We stopped by our local independent pet shop Treat Play Love (website here) and inquired about a new Jolly Ball. Kelly, the owner of Treat Play Love though happily supplied us a new rope for our old Jolly Ball. She had some extra ropes gathering dust in her shop, so she passed on a few lengths of rope to us for free.
 
Shaak Ti loved her new toy, which was just a plain rope. She enjoys sitting quietly and trying to turn a rope into a pile of string.
Shadowfax had grown a little bored with the rope-less version of the Jolly Ball. But with the new rope running through it, she was reinvigorated and we played with the Jolly Ball for nearly an hour.