Saturday, December 31, 2011


Nobu has a moustache!

A trip down memory lane

The coming new year belongs to Claire and Nobunaga...but today I catch myself reminiscing about all the great and terrible events of 2011, my fondest and most nostalgic memory being my two months with Sofie, intense, passionate, blazing like a comet across my life, a  love of a lifetime: bonding like soulmates for a brief moment with an eternity in the depth of feeling. These pictures were taken after only a day or so, and already we moved like a team...

The Kiss

Disney Princess: Sleeping Beauty

Granma what big eyes you have...Little red riding hood
Dandelion Dog

Journey's End 

Peace at last!

Friday, December 30, 2011

More Walkies

The dogs are getting a good amount of exercise: after a morning walk with me for an hour or so, toward lunch we went to Kuraki Park in the car: total 7674 steps, or two and a half hours outside, with the dogs cranking up more exercise than me as they wander about on the long lead. I took Nobu this time, and gave him his head, following him around since he's always so obediently following Claire. He made a beeline for some other dogs, a brown kaiken who wasn't really interested, and then stood there sniffing the air while I called Tosh to find out just where he and Claire had disappeared off to. They were down by the lake, so me and Nobu took a shortcut, coming round from the other side of the lake and heading them off. If we get too close the leads get all tangled up and it can get dangerous for the dogs, so we keep our distance, and Nobu made his first sniff foray into woody leaves and bamboo underbrush quite off the beaten path...normally he's quite careful to stay on the path. After circling round through the rushes, we were back with Claire, snapped these pictures and headed home for lunch. It gets cool again after about two, so these are the best times for fun walks and happy smiles.


Walked down in the Kamioka direction to a little trimming salon called Peach, which used to be a dog cafe but has moved and no longer runs the cafe, only the grooming business. They had a 3L doggie coat which I wanted to get for Claire, on our morning walks it can get quite chilly and lately she's been waking up later and later to avoid the first chill of the morning. The two dogs work  quite well on the lead together, when we got to the busiest road I kept the leash very short and told them to heel, which they understood quite well, and otherwise when there's no traffic they either gel like in this photo, or are off at tangents, but mainly within the radius of the leash.

 When we get home, Claire always goes through the door first ( a hierarchy reinforcer), and the dogs sit and wait in the entrance while I wipe their feet, again, Claire first. She doesn't need to be restrained, knowing the routine, but Nobu still has to be tied to the door handle or he'd skip the whole wipe your feet process and jump up on inside. Plus he's supposed to wait his turn...he's been with us all of three weeks now, and it's pretty miraculous how he fits in. He's a sweetie.

I was rather upset yesterday, losing Nobu's scarf on our morning walk...I didn't notice until we got home, and then it was breakfast and taking out the trash and i was too tired to go back immediately, but when I walked through the park again in the evening there was no sign. A friend this morning said they saw it near the toilet in the park, but when I went by there again expressly this morning it was not there...Perhaps just as well I'm finishing up Claire's scarf, now I will switch back to making a new one for Nobu! Claire's scarf is three swatches from other projects crocheted together, with the ends knitted up and smocked. The first section is a Scottish thistle sweater i never made, the middle teddy is a Kasumi swatch, and the pink crochet is the arms of another sweather I've made, worn and handed down long ago. Here is our gorgeous girl proudly wearing the new scarf over her Five Drops name tag.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Play School

Nobu seems totally fearful about playing with toys: he used to leave the room, particularly when I toss them into the air for Claire to catch. I'm slowly coaxing him to stick around, to grab and hold by wiggling the toy on the ground, and he can see when Claire goes wild, shaking toys and jumping around. He still thinks it's about two doggie play, and tries to take the toy from her, but she gets angry and lashes out, so he gives up on her, but still hasn't worked out how to make the toy fun by himself or involving a human. I have some rope, and he's beginning to bite ever so tentatively, so I'm hoping in time we can play tug of war with the rope, and there are sticks in the garden, so perhaps he will begin to play fetch with me: right now I just encourage him to hold the stick in his mouth, to begin to enjoy the feel of it. Perhaps Claire will also learn how to play with him, sharing the toy and teasing each other with a doggie tug of war...they have so much to learn from each other :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two setters

Today is the last day the town hall is open, so we went to register Nobunaga (previously known as Mallow). The second dog citizen sticker looks great on our gate, sandwiching the sticker from cafe press, and each day he's getting more and more healthy and happy, it's a joy to watch. A gentle giant, he has great restraint, excellent judgement about how to make friends with people and other dogs, is warm, tender, very tactile and loving. Welcome home, samurai lord. 

Meanwhile the next door neighbours called us in to greet Nobu and say hello to their dachshund, who took a great liking to Nobu, and the two enjoyed treats and getting to know each other. Nobu rolled over on the lawn, making friends, while Claire had gone on home with Tosh to enjoy her usual couch potato poses after our short walk in Kuraki park on the way home from the town hall.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cleaning the Coop

One thing I didn't bargain for with two dogs is the extra work hoovering and cleaning up...there's double the amount of hair, or in other words things get dirty twice as fast, even though we have Nobu and Claire eat bones and things in their cages. I remember the reason my Mum never got another dog after our darling dachshund Tanya passed away, and she said it was because she didn't want to have to hoover the carpets so often any more...
 I've taken over where she left off, it seems, mother to daughter. Here I am as a high school student with Tanya, and my mum playing with her as a puppy, around two or three years older than I am now. No peace for the wicked, as my auntie Flora would say.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Patient Pooch

I love going shopping with the dogs at the Bayside Marina, and there are lots of places to tie up the dogs as they wait while I check out the bargains. There's a choice of doggie restaurants, and both setters love the sea air and the seagulls. It's getting really cold on the morning walks, so I bought a long-sleeved pink underarmour top which will double as a dance practice top too. The dogs were so cute waiting for me, I just couldn't resist homing in on them for a couple of pictures, but I didn't want to get too close or they'd jump up (I kept popping back out of the stores praising them for waiting so patiently and giving them treats inbetween my various shopping forays).

Boxing Day Pedicure

Claire is wearing her new Five Drops name tag, but she's so sleepy after our morning walk (she found a cat and yipped and yowled to her heart's content) that she won't pose for pics, so here's a close up. I decided to have an amethyst set in the silver concho to match her sweet- tempered healing aura, and the cherry-blossom pink leather is perfect. The parcel arrived on Xmas Day with a kind note from the owners:
"Claire: a life saved. May her broken heart heal in the tenderness of your love, so that even though the pain will never disappear, she'll never revisit those old memories, basking in the warm glow of every new day being loved. Happy Christmas."

Meanwhile Nobu and Claire are enjoying a manicure and pedicure (pawdicure?peticure? there's a setter in this video clip explanation of how to do it): I've been clipping toenails, just a millimeter or two at a time to make sure I don't get too close to the quick, and then massaging their pad with Jojoba oil as recommended by Gaudi and Associates. When Nobunaga arrived his paws had just healed and he was on antibiotics to make sure he didn't get an infection, but now the pads are getting stronger.

"Your dog's footpads are the toughest part of his skin, and absorb the shock and pressure on his joints from standing, walking and running. Due to their function, paws are prone to injury and should be a part of your regular care routine
Dry, Cracked Pads: you dog's pads are naturally rough, they have to be so he has traction when he needs to turn quickly, sprint off and stop quickly. If the pads become cracked they are prone to collect dust and debris, which can cause further injury to the pad. Pads can be moisturised using a special footpad cream.
Try to avoid using human hand moisturiser as this tends to soften the pads to much and makes them prone to injury." says Claire Bristow

The Black Lab Company here in Yokohama also has a cream which I may buy at some point, just to vary the massage routine... At any rate being petted and pampered in the warm sitting room is a dog's dream, or so I hope...check out Nobu's dreamy look.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Samurai Xmas

Happy Xmas, oh gentle readers. Mallow's Xmas was spent living up to his new name, Samurai Shogun Nobunaga: we went to the Bwood dogrun as I had forgotten the poop bag and toys there, and Nobu went wild, enjoying jousting and mudwrestling, chasing and play-biting, barking and sniffing galore, letting off steam.

I think his previous owner would get angry at him for barking and jumping at other dogs, finally hitting him, and I could see where it comes from, but today on our morning walk he is able to restrain the urge to play a bit, so obviously he needs to be taken to the dog run once or twice a week to let off steam. He seemed tireless in his exuberant male sportive warfare, a joyous Greek athlete, delighting in the rough play. When we got home Xmas evening before we went out for Xmas dinner, I gave him his first full body shampoo, and he has come up really soft and curly, slowly getting to be a balanced happy dog.

Meanwhile our darling Claire was lounging in the sun people-watching and doggie-watching, and ended up on my lap to keep me warm as we waited for Nobu to burn out. The amazing thing is, she seems to have learned how to play bow and tease a little, this morning on our walk she actually made some moves to play with Nobu, and they chased and ran a little together...nothing like the sport he needs, but a gesture of acceptance, for sure.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Off to the Ball

A friend from Dance Zone Murakami was performing an amazing rumba with Murakamisensei, and since I always see them practicing before my own lesson with Kentsensei , she kindly invited me to the Xmas ball. I was thrilled, because it's my only dance party this year (next year being my fiftieth I hope to perform at the Zone 5 year party with Kentsensei). Both Murakami sensei and Kent sensei have dogs: Murakami sensei has the sweetest cream miniature dachshund called Momo (Peach), and Kent sensei has a mix, Cindy, who is really friendly. I used to take Sofie to my Tuesday dance class before she passed away, and she would sit in front of the mirror waiting while we whirled around. Anyway, Tosh was home to look after the dogs, and took them out for a run, so they spent the evening snoozing together in the sitting room. I wanted to get a sort of Lady of the Manor picture, with my two dogs sitting adoringly at my feet sort of image, but Nobu and Claire thought otherwise, and I had to dash out, so no time to work toward a perfect picture. So here is the rough impression of Lady of the Manor with her Adoring and Adorable Hounds ;P

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Poops on the Ground

Ever since I was a wee girl we've had a cat or a dog, or sometimes both, so cleaning up the kittie litter or the poops in the garden has never caused any emotional distress...In my Ecosongs for kids I included a poop song, Two poops on the ground to show small children how the earth cleanses and reuses in the cycle of life. With two big dogs now, searching for poops in the garden has become a daily treasure hunt: originally Mallow/Nobu was too weak to go for many walkies, so CACI suggested he wander free in the garden to pee at his own pace and regain strength. He also had very soft stool and had to go often. Fortunately now he has healthy little round nuggets like Claire. Thanks to his influence she has started to go in the garden too if there's no walkies on the horizon. This morning Tosh put out pails and garden pots to mark the spot and make sure the poops don't get trodden on...what a big bagful of poops I collected ;P. Having had a good long morning walk, a stint chasing pigeons for Claire and playing with friends for Nobu, Claire has discovered the armchair, and Nobu is on a blanket in the kitchen with me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dogs at Play

Now that Nobunaga has got some strength back in his legs, and his poops were round and healthy, we went to B-wood dog run for lunch. They do a mean veggie spaghetti, and I was driving so Tosh had a beer with his shrimp and tomato pasta. We went the last time in summer with Claire, and she had enjoyed the pool, but I just knew it would be heaven for Nobu because he's so friendly and wants to play with other dogs.

 There was a cute English setter, Monet, with her golden retriever pal, Udon, and they began to chase and play with the small and large Nunosbee frisbees. I promptly forgot them in the restaurant after lunch, so we'll have to go back soon to claim them.

 Nobu's scarf put him at a disadvantage with the play-biting, it was so easy to grab hold and pull, so I ended up taking it off so he could let it all hang loose and go for it.
 I was so busy jumping around with the dogs and laughing at their antics I didn't take any snapshots, so all the camerawork is done by Tosh.

After lunch there was a cute doberman lady and a choco lab lady and the two of them were chasing Nobu, who ended up on his back begging for mercy, and a St. Bernard sidled up to check things were safe and step in if play got too rough. He simply couldn't get enough, but I want to pace him and make sure he doesn't overdo it, so we came home far too soon for his liking...
Meanwhile our Claire was taking it easy, wandering round sniffing at her own pace and not getting too involved with the other dogs, as is her wont.
 When Tosh went to sit down in the cafe area to wait for the food and relax, she got lonely and peered through the fence, trying to coax him to come back, but when he took her out with him Nobu got lonely, and apparently so did she, so she soon came back in, staying on the sidelines and watching the fun. .

Particularly since there are no pigeons about she is quite disinterested, but in her easy going way she is happy to wait and let the people round about her enjoy things.