Blue-Violet Iris Interior

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Double No-Trouble

I've been in the process of scaling back on my dog-sitting, for two reasons: first, it's been taking up so much of my time (not only with the gigs themselves, but the time it takes me to recover, which usually works out to one day of recovery for every two days spent sitting), leaving me with little energy to work on my other projects, and more importantly, because, as became apparent when I had a long stay with Cutie at the beginning of the year, Abbey can no longer tolerate having me away from home for long periods of time. The last thing I want is for Abbey to be stressed during these final years of her life and I want to be sure I spend most of my time with her. I made it known to my clients that while I would honor all gigs that had already been booked, I would henceforth only take week-long gigs.

Cutie has grown much more mellow and mature, but she still has a saucy side!

It rained and rained and rained and rained while I looked after Cutie in January-February. Don't be fooled by this woeful face--she was quite happy to lay out on the lawn while the rain poured down.

The other part of my plan to cut back on the amount of dog-sitting I do was to take no new clients after Mr. Gorgeous and Goldie passed away. Both of them were very special to me and with the two of them heading for the Rainbow Bridge within a month of each other, it clearly marked the end of an era. I miss them a lot. I think of Goldie whenever I look after her best friend and neighbor, Sable, and to be honest, I'm glad that Sable & Co.'s house is up on rise among trees that hide the lake even though it's just across the lane from Goldie's house because it would be so much harder to see the same view from the house without Goldie in it. I take Sable and Scruffy down to the lake and will stroll out on Goldie's dock with my camera, but it isn't the same at all. Those warm and wonderful days Goldie and I spent together last June seem more and more like a beautiful, golden dream...

I go down to the lake with Sable and Scruffy, but we don't sit on the dock together like Goldie and I did. Sable likes to chase the birds while Scruffy hunts for rodents in the long grass.

I still have a wonderful time with the dogs, it's just a different wonderful time.

When I'm with Scruffy and Sable, we spend a lot of time all piled together on the couch.

Teddy & Roo's sire,
Ch. Int. Ch. Kings Valley
Master of the Gold, TC. HC.
And then there's the loss of Mr. Gorgeous, who I continue to miss. It's still hard for me to look at photos of him without feeling a deep grief that he is no longer living. So when I got a call a few months after his death from a potential new client with a pair of smooth collies, I immediately said yes. The difference between rough collies, like Mr. Gorgeous, and smooth collies, like my new clients, is simply a difference in the length of the hair: a smooth collie is a short-haired collie and a rough collie is a long-haired one. They are virtually the same otherwise and in fact the sire of my new charges was a rough collie. The new collies are also sable* and white, so they would be almost like Mr. Gorgeous...but not quite. I would have had difficulty taking care of a rough collie after Mr. Gorgeous' death, but smooth collies seemed like a great way to get my collie fix without trying to duplicate him.

* While sable usually means black, in dog coats it refers to fur of any color tipped with black and in collies it denotes a golden-brown coat where some of the hair has black tips.

This is what a smooth collie looks like.

Here's Mr. G for comparison.

They have the same elegance of a rough collie, but with short hair.

The smooth collies are brothers from the same litter who I will call Teddy and Roo. Properly bred (unlike dear old Mr. Gorgeous), they are sensitive and intelligent as well as handsome, as collies should be. Now eleven years old, the brothers are primarily interested in sleeping, disinclined to going on long walks or spending much time out in the heat or the rain--dogs after my own heart, in other words! They give an alert bark if someone comes to the door or passes by and sometimes do a bit of crooning and yelping while playing, but are otherwise very quiet. Well-trained, they know a wide variety of commands and only sniff or go to the bathroom on walks when given permission to do so. Friendly though not lavishly affectionate, the pair of them can almost always be found together, often sharing the same pillow, one tawny body blending into another. (I would like to add that while T&R may be more intelligent and emotionally connected and well-bred, despite their elegant appearance and clean movements, neither of them have Mr. G's magnificent, floating trot.)

The boys have very dainty little paws, given the size of their bodies.

T&R cool off on the kitchen floor together after spending time out in the sun.

Where does one dog end and the other begin?

Despite being different dogs with different coats, there are definitely things that Teddy and Roo have in common with Mr. Gorgeous. These similarities include a love of pushing back and forth between your legs, a particular way of looking down their long noses with eyes soft and unfocused with pleasure while having their heads scratched, and taking very long drinks of water. What surprised me the most was that Teddy and Roo's various huffs and sighs and groans and emotion-based breath changes sound exactly like Mr. G's did--I've cared for enough dogs to know how much these noises can vary. It was exactly as I hoped: T&R are like Mr. Gorgeous but not too much like Mr. Gorgeous. While I thought of him often as I spent time in Teddy and Roo's company, it was without pain.

Double No-Trouble.

Teddy and Roo are not just brothers: they are virtually identical. It takes practice to tell them apart! The biggest difference is the width of the white fur on the back of their necks: Roo's is wide while Teddy's is narrower with a line going up towards his head, which I thought of in my mind as "T for Teddy." Roo has a tiny snippet of white in the crease on his forehead, a very faint blaze on his muzzle, and slightly darker fur on the top of his head. Teddy's chest and shoulders are a bit broader, so from above his torso looks much more triangular as it tapers toward his waist. Still, at a glance it is not always easy to tell which dog you are looking at!

Which is which?
(Roo is on the left and Teddy is on the right.)

Not only do Teddy and Roo look the same, they could also often be found doing the same thing together.

The white markings on their necks were also a little bit different when seen from the side, but it was confusing because T's markings are wide on his left side and narrow on the right while R's are wide on his right and narrower on his left. It could be difficult to remember in the moment. Fortunately, the boys have their names on their collars!

The quickest way to tell them apart was from the top: I interpreted the markings in the white fur on the dog on the left as "T for Teddy." 

Temperament-wise, while the dogs were similar overall in behavior, there are small differences. Teddy, who spent the first two years of his life in a different home where there was a great deal more chaos and competition from other dogs, is much more fixated on his food and rougher when taking treats. He also (at least during my first stay) was more likely to test my boundaries while on a walk, experimenting to see if I would enforce the rules about no sniffing and peeing in people's yards, though this experimentation was very gentle compared to even the best behavior of many dogs on the leash! He is also more likely to follow me around the house, though less likely to cuddle. Roo, though in some ways more aloof, is the dog who will join me on the couch and who is thrilled to be invited up on the bed. He likes playing fetch with toys (and loves a stuffed monkey in particular), while Teddy prefers to chase after Roo or steal his toys or play tug with me or get his rump rubbed while holding a toy in his mouth. Teddy's favorite way to be petted is to have a knuckle rubbed in his ear, eliciting a deep groan of satisfaction. Roo enjoys an ear-rubbing, but especially loves a firm scratch along the length of his back that ends in concentrated rump-scritching--the pleasure of repeated sessions can wind him up to the degree that he has to sing a little song about it. Both dogs love basking in the sun, chasing after me while I run around with toys, getting treats, riding in the car, and sleeping.

Roo and his monkey.

Oh no! Teddy has stolen Roo's monkey from him!

Sunning together.

Sleeping together.

I think the greatest pleasure for all three of us during my recent stays with the boys were the evenings spent together in the dog beds. Teddy and Roo have beds in multiple rooms, but their favorites are the large cushions with bolstered sides placed next to each other in the master bedroom. I found myself missing the dogs because they were so often in the bedroom, so I decided to join them. That led to spending a couple of hours each evening sitting in the beds together. I would read and pet the dogs while they relaxed and snoozed. It got to be so that there was a certain amount of competition between Teddy and Roo as to which dog got to be in the bed where I sat. Teddy liked to claim that bed, but sometimes Roo would try to say it was his turn and they'd start play-fighting, but there was a little bit of an edge to it, so I would separate them, assure them that there was enough love to go around, and tell them to be seated. I generally let Teddy claim the coveted spot since it was the only time when he'd cuddle with me. As it turns out, he usually doesn't cuddle with anyone except one of the granddaughters of the family, so I was honored. Since Roo got into the practice of joining me in bed after an early breakfast for a couple hours of sleeping and snuggling, it seemed only fair that Teddy should get snuggle time, too. It made me so happy to see Teddy approach the dog beds, his ears held out to the sides, his eyes soft with love. I cherished the moments when I had a sleeping dog smashed tight against me on either side as I read.

The dog beds where all three of us ended up spending so much time.

A soft and loving look from Teddy.

The view from T&R's house.
I'm very glad I made the decision to accept Teddy and Roo as new clients, even if it increases the amount of dog-sitting I do. They are lovely dogs, sweet and kind and easy to care for, not to mention handsome and unusual! (It's always fun to turn heads when you're out with canine clients.) There is the added bonus of a stunning view of the entire Seattle metropolitan area from their hilltop house and there is some excellent bird-watching to be had there, too, which I will cover in my next post. It makes me happy to have collies in my life again, but who are wonderful in their own right and who do not impinge upon or diminish the memory of Mr. Gorgeous. I look forward to spending more time with these beautiful boys with their long limbs and long noses, their high barks of excitement and low groans of contentment, two peas in a pod, double no-trouble.

No comments:

Post a Comment