Conversations with Ocean

We have a lovely, slightly-spoiled doggie named Ocean. She’s an akita, a breed we didn’t know really well before getting her, and pretty independent. We used to have two akitas but, as life would have it, we lost River and now we only have Ocean.

Life as an only dog suits Ocean just fine. She gets twice the kisses, treats and tons of toys. She also gets to participate in a lot of conversations with me. I however, wonder if she wants a brother or sister.

I talked to her about it, but she didn’t seem very open to the idea.

Me: What kind of breed do you think you’d like for a brother?

This again? No brothers. They take my toys

Me: What about a bulldog? They’re super cute.

They’re pretty wrinkled and snore at night. Besides, I’m cuter.

Me: What about a Neapolitan Mastiff?

Are you kidding me? Do you know how much they drool?

Me: Hm…what about a bullmastiff?

This is getting old very fast.

Me: What about an Irish Wolfhound? They’re beautiful.

You may need help

Me: A bloodhound? A Newfoundlander?… You know, if you don’t help me, I’ll end up at the pound and get a rescue.

I am going to ignore you now and go back to looking for squirrels.

Me: Sigh.

Now, let’s talk about our options for dinner

We get a visitor

It all started with our two akitas. They were outside going absolutely nuts. I blamed it on the snow (those dogs are part penguin). Turns out, it was something else completely.

A tiny kitten. The size of a chipmunk.

I didn’t think (of course). I ran outside in my slippers and crouching down called softly to him. I thought he would take off but he practically ran to me.

He was tiny. And he was very, very thin. I could feel all his ribs and the ridges of his spine through his fur. He was dirty and smelled funny and there was a secretion coming from his nose.

I tried to feed him but he wouldn’t eat and I knew he needed a vet and a home, so twenty minutes later, we were at the local animal shelter.

They explained that they are going to have to force feed him until he starts eating again. They’ll have to put him on antibiotics to clear his nose infection. They’ll get their vet to check him over and give him his shots so he’s up to date on vaccines. They will spay/neuter him (or her, we never did check) so he’ll be a better, healthier pet and they will find a home for him.

They do it all from donations.

As we left, my hubby turned to me and said, “Taylor, you saved that kitten’s life.” I have to disagree.


River adjusting

We adopted River from a kennel. It wasn’t a bad place but he didn’t get the attention or experiences he gets in our home. Adjusting to life in a house has been exactly that, an adjustment.

He’s still suspicious of new food so, when I gave him a bit of a strawberry, he spat it out rather than eat it. He still takes a long time to settle when he’s in the house. He still can’t differ between dog toys and inanimate objects–as my slippers found out the hard way.

Now, you might think with this new lovely home, River would be grateful to be here…and I think he is, but he’s also quite determined to leave us. He keeps escaping. We have a fence (five feet high) to try and keep him inside. He climbs the thing like some sort of possessed squirrel and hops over and he’s off. And it’s a nightmare.

Houdini doesn’t care that he could get hit by a car, or injured or lost. He’s delighted with the adventure and is off to find new horizons. We’ve done everything from adding rocks to adding an electric wire to the top of the fence to keep him home. Just now, he’s found a new way out and we got home yesterday to find him running about, filthy as a pig, covered in burs.

We were horrified. He couldn’t be happier.

Getting the burs off a dog is a nightmare. In a dog that has long, deep, thick fur, burs dig themselves in and cling like baby monkeys to their mother. Worse, if you don’t get them out of the dog, they just go in deeper.

The only way to get them out is to get a comb and yank them out—something the dog doesn’t appreciate (though I can tell you the owner isn’t thrilled about the process either).

The process itself is a nightmare:

1. Get dog

2. Calm dog and pet dog–while petting, find a bur.

3. Grab bur while trying to keep dog still.

4. Yank comb through fur hoping to at least dislodge bur.

5. Find out that the thing didn’t even budge and curse while dog takes advantage of moment to slip away.

6. Proceed to chase dog through house.

7. Corner dog while at the same time keeping the other dog (who wants in on the fun) away.

7. Calm dog and reassure dog while surreptitiously searching for the blasted bur.

8. Find the bur has now dug itself deeper into the fur and curse in several languages.

9. Get comb and yank through fur.

10. Whip fingers away from dog’s teeth.

11. Chase dog through house (making mental note to clean the dirty paw prints from the floor later).

12. Corner dog and repeat.

River had something like 8 000 burs deep in his fur. The entire nightmare took hours. At the end, exhausted, I let them out.

He climbed the fence and promptly got out again.

I started to hit my head against the wall.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. After the entire de-burring episode, we did see a sign of improvement. Now, I have to apologize for the picture. It might be a good camera but it can’t make up for my ineptitude. I hope you can spot him.

IMG_0068 IMG_0051

He was so tired, he fell asleep outside his crate. For the first time.

Do not vacuum your dog

So Ocean is blowing her coat and we’re practically swimming in dog hair. Blowing their coat is an expression dog owners use to explain the weeks they live with constant hair thanks to their doggies. Apparently it happens twice a year. We thought this happened along with the seasons but, since we’re in the middle of winter, and Ocean is changing hers, that’s obviously not the case.

Dogs that have short hair shed all the time but in little bits. Dogs that have long hair, shed twice a year and shed enough to coat a herd of sheep. However, they only do so twice a year and that’s because if they did it more frequently, their owners would kick them out of the house for good.

While short-haired dogs have hair that’s like bristles, long-haired dogs have fine, fine hair that sticks together and creates little balls of ‘fluff’. It’s very soft and sticky and, trust me, you do not want to get it in your eye.

Ocean has been blowing her coat for roughly three weeks now. That means that for twenty one days we’ve been living surrounded by these little (or not so little) balls of fluff and we’ve had more than a few of them in our eyes, in our food, in our bed and in our clothes. They accumulate overnight and are so numerous that my husband finally had enough.

He bought an industrial-size wet-vac the size of my Jeep.

The power of this thing is such that you could use it to strip paint from walls. It sucks everything from dirt to water, to little children. The little weightless fluffs disappeared instantly….aaaand so did some earrings, my good socks, a good number of pens, change and basically anything that wasn’t nailed to the ground.

That’s when my hubby tried to vacuum the dog…Let’s just say it didn’t go well and leave it at that.

Did I mention we’re getting another akita?

Snow is coming.

We already had snow. Tons of it. Turns out Mother Nature didn’t think we had enough. Last night we got two feet more. Want proof?

Exhibit A: The bush that disappeared.

That was a bush. You can sort of still see it under the snow. Sort of.

That was a bush. You can sort of still see it under the snow. Sort of.

Exhibit B: Trees covered by the white stuff.


Exhibit C: One crazy akita

She likes to shove her face into the snow. No idea why.

She likes to shove her face into the snow. No idea why.

Once she's covered in snow, Ocean likes to lay in the stuff...again, no idea why.

Once she’s covered in snow, Ocean likes to lay in the stuff…again, no idea why.

Oh, Guess what our forecast for tonight is? Massive snow storm.


If it’s epic (by Canadian standards), I promise pictures.

Dirty dog habits

We have an akita named Ocean. She’s lovely and feisty and for some insane reason insists on waking me up at 6 am every day (yes, even weekends). That might have annoyed some people, we just think she’s quirky and love her more.

We like to think we treat her well. She has good food, treats, toys of every kind and two wonderful cushions to lay on. It stands to reason, among this opulence, she’d start forming curious habits.

To my disgust, Ocean has started drinking from the toilet.

It’s not like there’s no water available to her. She has a water bowl that we personally clean and fill with filtered, clean water. In the summer, we add ice cubes. Ocean has water, she just prefers the one in our toilet.

I’ve tried explaining things to her, tried using positive reinforcements and tried a sharp “No!” whenever we caught her. Nothing worked.

Ocean still drinks from out toilet.

I know. Put down the lid, right? This might appear to be the easiest and most obvious solution but, my husband (with two university degrees to his name) is unable to remember to comply. Once the lid was up, Ocean was back at it.

Maybe she’s going through her teens. She’s almost two, that’s fourteen in doggie years. This could be her version of getting a tattoo. Maybe she’s trying to tell us she’s trusts us as doggie parents. If she’s willing to show us all her issues without fear, that shows a deep level of trust. No?

Maybe she just likes toilet water.

I should probably accept it and relax.

Not as easy as it sounds. After all, Ocean likes to wake me on Saturday mornings by licking me.



Ocean and her window

one customer who doesn't mind the paparazzi

one customer who doesn’t mind the paparazzi

We feed the birds. And they eat. In fact, they’re eating so much, we’re refilling that feeder at least once a week.

They’re not shy either. We walk right by them to get in the house and not only do they not fly away, they continue eating. Some do stop and give us a look, but most keep chomping away. As you can tell by the picture and how close I was when I took it, we don’t intimidate them. They’ve sort of decided the feeder is theirs and they mostly ignore the humans who walk by.

Ocean finds them fascinating. She loves the window. It’s a very tall one and she can sit on the ledge and stare outside all day. And she does…until the sun falls on her and she gets too hot and then asks to go outside where it’s minus 17 Celcius. To cool off.

At first, when she didn’t understand how the window works, Ocean would get all worked up over the birds. So would the birds. It seemed they didn’t appreciate having a hairy dog staring at them while they were eating.

Time has healed all wounds, however. Now, both Ocean and the birds have reached a peaceful agreement. The birds have agreed to ignore Ocean completely and she, in turn, has agreed to continue to watch them eat.

Ocean looking out the window. Her favourite pastime.

Ocean looking out the window. Her favourite pastime.

Miss Fluffy Tail herself.

Miss Fluffy Tail herself.

Isn’t she beautiful?

I thought I’d get a picture of her Fluffiness. And this is the best I could do with our very wiggly Ocean. If you think that tail is fluffy, you should see it when she wags it. It waves back and forth like some sort of hairy version of a cheerleading pom pom.