Thursday, November 14, 2013

We're Booked Up!

We are booked up for the week of Thanksgiving and will not be taking any more reservations. Wishing everyone and their furry and feathered friends a wonderful Thanksgiving -- a time to remember all we have to be grateful for! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

In Loving Memory of Einstein

It seems like all I have been writing about in the last year are tributes to our pets. Here I am again, this makes the fourth one. This one being the hardest of all to write. I loved them all -- both cats and dogs -- and they were all so special and each such a unique bundle of furry unconditional love. This one however, was that one-in-a-million dog. 

We had been dog-less for about a year or so after the last of the previous generation of dogs passed away when we decided we were ready to adopt again. We found Einstein through our veterinarian clinic. One of the veterinarians had a friend who was looking for a new home for their four year old Australian cattle dog. We immediately fell in love with Einstein and three days before Christmas in 2000, took him home with us. What a great Christmas gift!

Although we were excited to have a new family member, I know giving him away was a difficult
thing for his previous family to do and it was hard on Einstein for the first day or so too. He didn't understand why this was happening. He didn't really want anything to do with us once we got him home and took him out in the backyard. He didn't want us to touch him. He barked out the gate to go back home. Finally, with patience and persistence, my husband was able to get the first pet in, and once that happened and Einstein saw we were only there to love him, he was okay. He was our dog now.

What a great dog. He was already well trained and had great manners.He always waited for my permission before he did anything. It became quickly apparent why his name was Einstein. The name fit. He was the smartest dog I have ever met. Not long after bringing him home I began taking him to work with me. (This was before I started pet sitting.) I worked in an office and he would stay by my side at my desk, content to just be wherever I was. It was after this, my husband states, that Einstein became my dog. From then on, Einstein felt his purpose was to watch over me and protect me. 

If I was around, he knew where I was at all times, no exceptions. Where ever I was, there he was. He was my body guard and he took it seriously. When I would leave the house, he would wait for me by the front door. Closed doors were not allowed in our house. If they weren't completely shut, he would shove them open forcefully. He also kept tabs on where anyone else was that might be in our house. Our bathroom door doesn't always shut completely because of settling so when someone uses the bathroom and closes the door as far as it will go, well you guessed it -- Einstein would forcefully shove it open with his muzzle. No privacy allowed here!

He loved our cats and was intrigued by one in particular. He could sit and watch her for hours. She was the best entertainment for him. Likewise, I'm sure. Being the herding dog he was, he was content to herd smaller animals like cats, dogs or humans. He left the herding of larger animals like horses and cows up to our Australian Shepherd, Ellie (who we adopted six months later). We will never forget one time when we were on our ranch in the country, with all four of our dogs. They were all off together, close to the parameter of our property where it was heavily wooded, when they suddenly heard the loud thunder of cattle coming  their direction from the adjoining property. The two female dogs, Ellie and Cali started barking and running toward it, while the two boys, Einstein and Duke started running as fast as they could back to the house, all the while looking over their shoulder. They knew whatever was headed their direction was big and they didn't want any part of it. We still laugh about that.

Einstein loved going to our ranch of course. It was a new experience for him as he had previously lived on a golf course. His feet were so soft. After the first time tippy-toeing around the property, his feet got broken in and became rough. He loved swimming in the pond, fetching a toy and bringing it back over and over. He would never go off any where without me though. One of the first times he went with us he saw a rabbit and began chasing it at full speed. I called him and was amazed that he stopped immediately and came back. He wouldn't even go for a walk with my husband and the other dogs around the property if I wasn't going. He wanted to be with me, always. No matter what. Now that is loyal. I felt honored.

His vocabulary grew to be huge. I taught him the words and names for different types of
animals, the people we regularly saw, and any and everything else. He listened intently to everything I said. Even when I wasn't talking to him. He would let me know whenever there was some critter around. At our ranch, he would sniff into holes in the ground and if he whined that meant there was a critter of some sort in there. If he didn't whine, it was empty. When opossums would get into our garage and hide on occasion , he would whine with his nose pointed in the direction to let me know one was in there. I could always count on him to let me know who or what might be near.

We tried playing with our cats with a laser light once. It doesn't work well when you have dogs in the room. The other dogs would try to get the light (cats didn't have a chance) but Einstein would get irritated at the other dogs for trying to get the light. It was as if he was saying "you dummies -- Mom and Dad are making the light move!" If they didn't stop chasing the light he would nip at the hand that was holding the laser light  -- telling us to "stop that!". He was too smart to chase a laser light and thought the other dogs were ridiculous for doing so! We still laugh about that one too.

He loved tennis balls and was so enthusiastic about catching them he would do a flip in the process if needed. He was an excellent ball catcher. As a matter of fact, to show you just how great a dog's sense of smell is; just a short time after we adopted him, he was in the backyard and started digging close to the patio. After looking to see why he was digging there, I was amazed to see he had dug down at least six inches or so to uncover an old tennis ball! It had gotten buried years ago from our previous dogs. Amazing. He smelled it under several inches of dirt and it was only half of an old, worn out tennis ball. 

He also loved to tear the squeaker out of every stuffed toy and "kill it" so it couldn't squeak any more. He didn't like those squeakers! It would take him less than a minute to get them out.

Another funny story comes to mind. He was never afraid of our two horses. He was rather relaxed around them compared to the cows. He liked to eat their sweet feed and their carrots and would help himself to a bite or two. One day, he was standing just in front of our Quarter horse Tosha, while she was eating out of her bucket, with his butt to her and I guess she didn't want him so close to her food so she nipped him on the butt! He yelped and jumped at the same time and then came over to me pointing with his head and snout that his butt hurt. Naturally, I rubbed it and kissed it to make it feel better. He was the best communicator. He always let me know if something hurt and where.

He had such a calm and wise demeanor. People noticed it but other animals especially noticed it. No matter where we went and whether it was a dog or cat, they all gravitated toward him and showed particular interest in him. Even when we had all four dogs with us other people's pets would favor him. They found his calm and wise energy comforting. Our other pets were no different. Our cats adored him. He was in kitty herding heaven!  A veterinarian once remarked what a calm dog he was as we were waiting in the clinic. 

He was not a real friendly dog with other people. He only liked to receive pets if he asked for them and then he wanted the pets on his chest, please. He would shove your hand down to his chest if you went for the head. He had to know you to want a pet from you. He didn't allow just anyone to pet him. He was a one-person-dog as they say. He was totally dedicated to one person and that was me. I was the luckiest person in the world.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator with a picture of an Australian Cattle Dog - Blue Heeler on it and it has a description of them that says; robust, athletic, clever, versatile and talented. Watchful with strangers.  Hard-Headed (In bold). He was hard-headed indeed. He could also be very intense.

Other than a couple of bouts with Vestibular Disease when he was fifteen, he was healthy his whole life. He developed high blood pressure around the same time. We also discovered that he had a benign brain tumor and he had had several mini strokes. He didn't show any outward symptoms of either and never did. Though he lost his hearing, he was bright-eyed until the very end. He began getting weaker. He was very independent and wasn't happy about accepting help in the beginning, when he needed it but he quickly resolved to having to be taken care of. He had taken care of me for the last thirteen years and now it was my turn. He continued to communicate his needs in whatever ways he could. He was so good at that. I always knew what he wanted. He always knew what I wanted (though he may not have always listened). He was determined to stay with me for as long as he could. His body gave out long before he did but he finally let go two months after his seventeenth birthday, on October 29th. He had a good, long life filled with lots of love and fun.

Einstein (like the rest of our pets) taught me so much about myself and about them. He was a great teacher. They give us so much but most of all they give us unconditional love. They help us to grow and expand. We have only just begun to understand them. They have so much to teach us. They are magnificent creatures. They are sentient beings -- gifts from God. That's why it hurts so much when they leave. 

Einstein: The most amazing dog I have ever met. I am so grateful to have had him in my life. I will never be the same.