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Gunny's Blog
Saturday, 4 December 2010
My Dog Is A Weirdo

We all love him. How can we not? But Gunny is a goofball, and a sensitive one at that. After paying attention to patterns, I have come up with the following...he is a Selective Trash Traipser and that is directly related to his level of irritation with me.

Gunny never, ever, messes with the trash can in the kitchen, no matter what delightfully stinky things I throw in there. He will, however, spread the contents of the bathroom can all over a two room expanse IF: 1) there are a sufficient number of tissues in the can and 2) I have had the audacity to leave him behind more than twice in a given day.

The good news is, he is a shredder and a spreader but he is NOT an eater, thank goodness!

Posted by fillows4 at 6:25 PM EST
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Happy Birthday Gunny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today is Gunny's 5th birthday.  Obviously, we couldn't know his actual day of birth, but in honor of his Marine-inspired name that he was given by my father (a Marine in the Korean War), my Dad also asked that we choose a birthday of equal honor.  So it was...Novermber 10th, the birthday of The United States Marine Corps.  This year while Gunny turns 5, the Marines turn 235.  Semper Fi (the motto of the Marines)....Always Faithful.  True of the Marines and of sweet Gunny.

Happy Birthday Big Guy!! Here is to MANY, MANY more!

Posted by fillows4 at 7:58 AM EST
Sunday, 7 November 2010
The Training Continues
Gunny continues to get out and about to practice for his Canine Good Citizen test, and he continues to struggle with the same difficulty Oscar had....he is too friendly. It takes all he has to keep from rushing up to greet new friends, human or dog. But, we continue to pick away at it, and he is definitely getting closer to being ready to take his test.

I have chosen my new, all-time most ridiculous, Gunny-related question. This is not a one-time occurrence, this is a question I have heard MANY times since Gunny came into my life. I heard it again yesterday. When asked about his missing leg, I explained it was a result of his life in dog fighting. This was countered with (as it always is), “Oh, did you rescue him?” Seriously, stop and think for a there any other plausible answer to that question than “yes”? You have no idea how tempted I sometimes am to say “What are you talking about, rescue? He's one of my best fighters” just to see if that will get a person's attention and illustrate the importance of thinking before speaking. Wouldn't a more reasonable question be something like “how did you come to get him?” or “what was the story behind his rescue?”.   Maybe my expectations are just too high?

Posted by fillows4 at 10:46 AM EDT
Monday, 18 October 2010
Neighborhood Dog Wash

Yesterday was Bully Bath Day at my house. I decided to take advantage of what I believe will be the last opportunity for outdoor bathing for awhile. While setting up, I heard the neighbor kids bugging their Mom for some time in the sprinkler...a plan that was shot down. So, like any trouble-causing person without kids, I invited them over to help me wash the dogs. I had three boys, ages 7 to 11, in their swing trunks, barefoot in my driveway, within 2 minutes.

Gunny came out first, and the boys' job was to get him nice and sudsy. They did a great job, too bad I didn't get photos. They took their work very seriously, avoiding Gunny's face, but washing between his toes. Turns were taken with rinsing him off. When it was time to dry him off, he was swaddled in bath towels like nobody's business. He looked like an overgrown cotton ball.

Oscar came next, and I wish I had video for this part. He loves water. Really loves water. Loves water to the point that if you hook up the hose and just lay it on the ground---without the water turned on---he will stand there, motionless, and stare at it for hours. No need for a leash or a fence if you have a hose. Now, once the water comes out, he will do everything in his power to eat the water....every last bit of it. Knowing that dogs have gotten pneumonia from inhaling water in this manner, I am very careful with Oscar and hoses. Thus, it was my job to handle the water portion of bath time. Oscar does not stand still for the water...he rears up and walks around on his hind legs, he jumps around like a lunatic, and pounces like a cat. Once I got him pretty wet, the boys tried to get the suds going. This was the hysterical part. The boys would inadvertently block Oscar's view of the hose. This resulted in him circling to get a better view, which led to the boys repositioning, which led to more circling by Oscar, and on and on. The more they circled, the more the boys laughed. The more the boys laughed, the happier Oscar got. The happier Oscar got, the more he'd bounce up and down on his front feet and lick unsuspecting faces that were bent right over into his space. It got to the point that it looked a lot like a greased pig race, if the pig agreed to stay within a circle with a 5' diameter. The drying off process wasn't much better, as the towels really blocked Oscar's view of the hose. But hey, the kids learned some things about taking care of a dog. Their mother watched the whole thing and said “See boys, we don't need a dog of our own, you have plenty next door!” How many people do you know that would have freaked out at the idea of 3 young kids bathing 2 loose pitbulls in a driveway? Well, wouldn't all of those people learned a little something, hmmmm?

Hope stuck to indoor bathing, since water is still scary. While I still have to lift her into the tub, she will run willingly into the bathroom, and yesterday she stood quietly beside the tub as I lifted her in. This was the first time she didn't scramble backwards and hide in the corner as soon as I made a motion to lift her in. And remember the days that I had to put a leash on her to get her into my bedroom, let alone my bathroom, if she so much as heard water?

Posted by fillows4 at 8:53 PM EDT
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Gunny the Nursemaid
Typically, at bedtime, Gunny avoids the pile-on chaos, and stakes out a space on the floor beside the head of my bed. He is there when I go to sleep, gone when I awaken. Once I am asleep, he moves on to more comfortable accommodations...usually the guest bed or the couch. This pattern does not hold true at naptime for some reason. In the event that I lay down on some afternoon, all 3 Bullies climb in the bed and nap right along with me. On Friday, I was coming down with a bug, so came home from work and crawled into bed for a nap. True to form, I had furry company for the full duration. When I went to bed that night, Gunny broke from tradition and joined the family. When Gunny snuggles, he wiggles all the way to the pillow area, spoons in tight, and rests his chin on my arm that is bent up by my chin. He's pretty friggin' adorable. He did this both Friday night and Saturday night, and on Saturday night, he actually burrowed under the covers before assuming his snuggling position. Although he was snoring loudly when I fell asleep both nights, I awakened to only 2 Bullies on both mornings. Maybe he needed some room and had to get away from Hope The Canine Velcro, who makes sharing a bed challenging. I have no idea how Gunny extracted himself without waking me, but he did, on both nights.  I am blaming the extra company on me being sick, as I am still not 100% over the bug as I type this.

Posted by fillows4 at 9:07 AM EDT
Friday, 8 October 2010
May I Have Your Autograph Please?
Gunny and I headed up to Tractor Supply to work on some skills we need to nail down for the Canine Good Citizen test. Ironically, his friendliness is what's getting us in trouble. Mr. Wonderful is so used to his fans approaching him with silly faces, and baby-talk, and open arms, that he doesn't understand the concept of waiting to say hello to strangers. So, we headed out to find us some strangers.

As soon as we walked through the door, an employee spotted us and exclaimed, “Hey, I know you!” as she looked Gunny in the face. “I just read a story about you!” We visited for a few moments, then set off to practice. I could hear the employee speaking excitedly to other staff. “Hey, guess who's here! The winner from the contest in the company's magazine? HE'S IN THE STORE RIGHT NOW!!!” Later I could hear the same employee informing customers in line that Gunny was on-site. Next thing I know, a different staff member approached me.

“Excuse me, Ma'am?” she asked timidly, “I heard that you won the big Tractor Supply contest, and the staff was just wondering if maybe you'd be willing to sign an autograph?”

OK, go ahead and picture me with a big embarrassed grin on my face, trying not to laugh out of shock in this poor girl's face, hiding behind my hair to cover up how badly I was probably blushing. Got it? That's about how it went.

“Sure,” I said. “I'd be happy to.”

On our way out of the store, we stopped and chatted with some Pitbull Grandparents, and Gunny got to practice his waiting and his containment of all his joy. Another couple overheard some of the talk, and said “You know, he looks just like that 3-legged pitbull that was on the news one morning with Larry Sprinkle.” Boy were they excited when I told them that this was because he WAS the 3-legged pitbull that was on the news one morning with Larry Sprinkle. The original Tractor Supply employee started handing out magazines to anyone in the vicinity, telling everyone “Flip to page 10!!”

The store's manager ripped out the page with Gunny's story, and across the top he wrote GUNNY IS ONE OF OUR CUSTOMERS!!! Then he asked me to autograph it. They planned to post it on their customer information bulletin board.

So, how about that? Gunny's been famous for a long time now, but no one has ever wanted MY autograph before!

Posted by fillows4 at 10:21 PM EDT
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
An Overdue Update
Things have been really busy around here with life beyond Gunny (yes, really, there is such a thing, lol!). I hope you can forgive the general summary, but here are the basics...

Gunny's incision is fully healed, though remnants of Frankenpuppy and Mohawk Man remain in the form of a little scar. The biopsy came back clean, and joy reigned in the kingdom.

All of the queries to agents re: Gunny's children's book have been answered, and we were unanimously rejected. Several were personal notes, with encouragement and reasoning. I have one more idea to try, when I have the energy to pursue it, but I have a learned a lot about the publishing industry, and unfortunately, what I wrote doesn't seem to fit in a “box” that they like. Too bad for them, as I guarantee you that the vast majority of kids out there would really like the book, in its current form.

I have started to pursue the Canine Good Citizen award from the American Kennel Club with Gunny in earnest, and recently met with an examiner who told me our obedience work is not as far off as I believed it to be. So, Gunny works weekly on the areas that are his weak points (literally being TOO friendly to pass the test at this point). Today he came with me to Home Depot to pick up a truckload of mulch to replace all that his sister Hope ate as a baby, and he did a great job ignoring all the people he really wanted to lick and love on.

This past weekend, Gunny was a special guest at a Blessing of The Animals service at a local church. He was fantastic, as always, even with a room full of dogs, 1 snake and 1 guinea pig. Gunny shared the spotlight with Susie, of Susie's Law, a special girl who has literally changed the legislation system with regards to animal abuse. Read her story here (and know that the law DID pass this summer!!!)







Posted by fillows4 at 9:19 PM EDT
Monday, 13 September 2010
Gunny The Legend
 Last night I was catching up with a friend who lives across the street, when her husband walked over to us. He apologized for interrupting, and said he had a funny story to share before he forgot. Apparently, he has a new coworker from FAR out-of-state who is currently working on finding a place to rent. The problem is, he's been running into some trouble with landlords due to “dangerous dog” know, where an entire breed is discriminated against due to some people's ignorant stereotypes as opposed to actual facts? Well, my neighbor told his coworker that he lived across the street from someone with three dogs that most landlords would turn away, and that maybe some ideas could be passed along. Somewhere in the conversation my neighbor must have mentioned my dogs by name, because apparently, the word “Gunny” was uttered. His coworker jumped right on that, and was amazed to hear that this man knew THE Gunny. He told my neighbor that he'd heard all about Gunny on Facebook. He even said something about wanting to come by the neighborhood if it meant he might actually get to meet Mr. Wonderful.

My neighbor gets it that Gunny is famous, but I don't think he knew how widespread his fame actually was. He told me “This new guys doesn't know me from Adam, or anything about me yet, but he knows all about my neighbor's DOG!” And if he wanted to, he could even brag that Gunny has escorted his children trick-or-treating, and hung out in his living room!

Posted by fillows4 at 7:43 PM EDT
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
To Those Who've Come Before

Gunny is graciously sharing his space, as I am feeling particularly nostalgic tonight.

Oscar is a good starting point for introducing you to the past, as he's a bit of a bridge.  He is My Guy. My Right Hand Man. My Guardian. If a caricature of him was drawn, it would feature dark sunglasses, folded muscular arms, a fitted black t-shirt, black jeans and a small earring. Maybe his shirt would be bright yellow and have the word SECURITY across the front. At any given time, Oscar is no more than 3 feet from my side. Usually it is more like 6 inches. This includes him laying on the bath mat every time I take a shower. Another drawing could feature a big, happy dog with a huge grin, a flopping tongue, an intense stare, and a tennis ball. It took him less than 5 minutes to train the new neighbors in the finer art of Fetch. He also educated them that by choosing to live in that house, they assumed the commitment of throwing anything Oscar pushed through the fence onto their property, at any time, day or night.

Oscar moved in as a 3 month old puppy, and was my fist Bully. He was taken under the wing of a special dog named Tim, who had lost an eye during some systematic, sociopathic torture done by humans when he was a stray. Tim, named because of his timid nature, was more frightened of people than any dog I had ever met. It took a few years, and some positive doggie role models, to bring him around. Tim had Hokus, my college dog, to show him the way. Hokus was my Heart Dog. I pulled the 5 month old fluff ball from the pound in my small college town when I was only 20 years old. She moved all around the country with me, and we knocked out 14 hour road trips together like it was nothing. Hokus was a wonderful copilot. We shared cheeseburgers from McDonald's and she knew how to drink water from a cup. She attended the huge St. Patty's Day celebration in Savannah, and never blinked at the chaos. I cannot tell you how many lacrosse and rugby games she watched with me, as her uncles got---and gave---some serious hard knocks each weekend. She liked other dogs just fine, as long as they conceded that she was Queen Bee and all rules were set by her. She was stubborn, and independent, fiercely loyal and one of the smartest dogs I have ever met. In her golden years, she literally saved Tim's life by holding off an out of control BIG dog intent of ripping Tim's throat out. Hokus was a whopping 54 pounds, yet she had no problem taking on 150 pound dogs who threatened her, her family, or her universe. It was a special kind of heart break when I had to put Hokus to sleep 2 weeks shy of her 14th birthday.

Tim was lost. Absolutely broken. He searched for Hokus incessantly. I started taking him to the barn with me when I rode, in an effort to find something that would engage him. Contrary to popular belief, not just any dog can be a true Barn Dog, but as luck would have it, Tim was. From that first moment on the farm, he got it. And that role gave him courage and confidence I had never seen in him before. The horses loved him and trusted him. I never once taught him boundaries, but he never came in the riding ring, and he never left the property unless I took him. He would trot along at my horse's side when we ventured out, his fluffy tail flagged, prancing like a parade horse.

Tim was my only dog, and the official Barn Dog, for about a year before Oscar came along. Then it was Tim's turn to be the role model. Sadly, Oscar only had Tim in his life for about 6 months before Tim was put to sleep at midnight, in the emergency room, after battling cancer for 8 weeks. He had just turned 8 years old. It was one of those moments when you shake your fist at the sky and curse life for being unfair. He had suffered such unbelievable acts of cruelty and had come out on top. He found his true calling as a Barn Dog, only to have it taken away soon after by some out of control cells that destroyed his body.

Hokus had a cat. Her name was Tigger, and she was the first cat I ever had. Although Hokus was good with dogs, she didn't want to actually SHARE with dogs. When I graduated from college, I worried about her being bored at home, alone, all day, so I got the bright idea to get her a cat. We went to the pound, I picked out several friendly adult kitties, and asked the ladies to being them out 1 by 1 to meet Hokus. Every cat clawed its way to the top of the volunteer's head except one. This female marched right over to Hokus, rubbed under her chin, then promptly head butted her before turning on her heel and sauntering off. Done deal, send that cat with me.

Tigger had the gentlest spirit I had ever seen, mothering Hokus by washing her face and curling up with her in the dog bed. I got her a feisty kitten from the pound a year later, and Tigger took care of business. The kitten would fuss, and Tigger would mother her into submission. That feisty kitten is Tobbles, who turned 16 years old in May. Hokus, Tigger and Tobbles were my Original Pack, and the foundation of all the good work that has been done in my home, by my critters.

Tigger's mothering ways extending to Tim when he came along, and to Millie as well. She welcomed them by cleaning Tim's wounds, and mothering a nervous, abandoned kitten who was afraid of her own shadow. Unfortunately, liver failure reared its ugly head and Tigger only made it until age eleven. She was the first animal I ever had to put to sleep on my own, as a grown up. On the day I had the appointment to bring her to the vet, I started to notice something. Tigger, who had been very sedentary up to that point, got up and started to work her way through the house. She got into Tim's bed, washed his face, and laid beside him for awhile. Then she made her way to Hokus and did the same thing. It had been a couple of years since she served that role for Tim, and many years since she had done that with Hokus. Later, I walked into my bedroom and found all 3 cats on the bed, Tigger in the middle. Never once, in all the time that Millie was in the house, had Tobbles ever allowed her in the same room, let alone on the same bed. Yet there they were, laying 3 feet away from each other, with Tigger in the middle. From that day on, Millie and Tobbles slept on the same bed without so much as one hiss. People will say that I am crazy, but I absolutely believe that Tigger was saying good-bye. In true Mother Hen style, Tigger reminded everyone that they were a family, of how to get along, and of how to treat each other.

After I lost Tim, Oscar and I were a pair for over 2 years before Gunny came a long. That was a long time for me to be a 1 dog family. With his intense drive and intelligence, Oscar and I got a lot accomplished. He is by far the best-trained dog I have ever had. He earned his Canine Good Citizen title, and passed the evaluations for both of the international therapy dog organizations when he was only a year and a half old.

Oscar introduced me to Linc, an incredibly friendly stray who showed up one summer, acting like a kitten. By the time winter hit, this playful stray appeared to be dying of a bad kitty disease. I brought him to the vet thinking he'd test positive for AIDS and need to be euthanized. Poor guy had a raging infection, but was free of the really bad, incurable diseases, and he came to my house “temporarily”. Yea, right. So, Linc joined the pack, welcomed by all, was educated as to how the magic works, and learned to pay it forward. That “kitten” was actually 5 years old.

Of course you already know about how Oscar welcomed Gunny, and how Gunny welcomed Hope. Now you also know about those who set the stage, those that came before. Without our past, we would not have our present. In this house it's a cycle...and a very cool one at that.

In the pictures that follow...Hokus and Tim, Millie and Tigger (the tiger-striped), Tim The Barn Dog on duty x2, Tim and Oscar







Posted by fillows4 at 10:33 PM EDT
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Happy Dance for Gunny!!!

The lump was BENIGN!  It is called a histiocytoma, and they typically appear in dogs much younger than Gunny.  It also didn't look like the average lump of this kind, so the vets were surprised at the lab work.  But the good news is that Gunny is FINE!

He is being VERY good about leaving his stitches alone. I am driving all the dogs crazy insisting that they take it easy and avoid chewing on their brother's head while wrestling, but other than that, all is well.

Posted by fillows4 at 5:45 PM EDT

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