Tuesday, 26 June 2007


I rang the friends with the rats today to see if they wanted to come to dinner on Tuesday. The friends, not the rats.

They also have Susie, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is "not fat; she's just got a lot of hair." (But that's not part of the story. You may forget it.) These are the friends who kept Van-Ly and Nala when we went to Zurich a couple of weeks ago.

Steven was breathless when he answered the phone. He was holding two rats and I could hear Pat yelling in the background. He hung up and called back. He was still breathless. Or breathing hard. In addition to coping with the rats, the washing machine broke down and they were gone all day yesterday from 9 to 9, getting it fixed. (This part is important; you may remember it.) Their daughter just went back to Ireland after a week's visit, their son is home because school has finished, and they're baby-sitting, again.

We have an acquaintance, whom I may have mentioned, who got an 8-week-old Westie a week or two ago? I gave her Carina's book, suggested that carrying the pup everywhere is not good for its character, and we haven't seen her since. Now, it seems, she's gone to a quilting workshop (I think she's running it) and left the 10-week-old? puppy with Pat and Steven. It's not housebroken. It cries when it's in its crate. Her crate. Rosie.

Who gets a puppy when they're going to be off travelling? "Don't yell at me!" says Steven. "I'm not yelling at you," I say. "I'm yelling at Joan -- through you."

So the puppy is running around doing its puppy thing, which is peeing and pooping.

It prefers tile, but doesn't mind if it's indoor tile or outdoor tile in front of the apartment Pat and Steven rent out. And Pat and Steven are going nuts. I can hear steam escaping from his ears, over the phone, and she's still yelling in the background. It's pretty easy to tell she's yelling about the puppy. Or at the puppy.

"So," I said. "Put it in its crate and leave it there. Take it out to pee and poop."

"We do that," said Steven. "Then she runs back in the house to pee and poop."

"No, no," I say. "You take her out of her crate, take her to where she is to pee and poop, stay there until she does, and then put her back in her crate."

Objection, your honour!

"No, Steven, really. This is how you train them."

"We can't leave her there all the time," says Steven.

"Well, no," I say. "When she's peed and pooped, you play with her for awhile, take her for a walk, and then put her back in her crate."

Walkies. The second day they took her for a walk, Rosie got a grass seed under her upper eyelid and had to taken to the vet. We're 26 kilometres from the nearest vet. Pat and Steven are 40 kilometres. But the seed was removed and they have moved on to the antibiotics and ointment routine.

"But she makes an incredible amount of noise if you put her in her crate."

Gone yesterday from 9 to 9 with a screaming, barking puppy in the car because she's too young to leave at home? The sound on the other end of the phone is probably nerves fraying.

"She'll get used to it," I say. "That's what it's for."

I offer to take her for a couple of days. Hey! Antibiotics and eyedrops R Us. He declines, sure that I want to get her here to torture her. So we postpone dinner until the dog is gone, the kid is settled and the apartment dwellers have departed -- next weekend. We say goodbye.

I hang up and start to wonder who that was on the phone just now with Steven. Was that the person who, 33 months ago, wanted to know what a crate was? You mean one of those awful things I see at dog shows? You keep your dogs in those things? And they let you have dogs?

The person who knew that Chows couldn't be trained? The person that didn't care? If she'd wanted a dog to do tricks, she'd have got a Collie?

Has my husband noticed that this is not the woman he married and lived with for 22 years until she joined RAW-Lite? Are you people going to take responsibility for this new woman?

Whose Chow heels?

Nick wants to know.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Things About Chows

  • No one knows their history. The records were all burned when the mandarins were overthrown a couple of centuries ago.
  • Chows are born with 44 teeth, like bears. They lose 2 in adulthood to arrive at the normal 42 for dogs.
  • They have blue tongues -- blue mouths -- like a small black bear from Northern China. When God was making the stars, pieces of the night sky fell out and dropped on the tongue of the Chow.
  • They have straight hind legs, which makes it difficult for them to jump, but makes their cute Disney-behinds go switch, switch, switch when they walk.
  • One widespread theory of their origin is that there was a darwinian split in a superanimal, whose name I forget, and bears went one way and dogs the other. Chows fell down in the middle. They are considered the oldest breed in the world.
  • Easier to swallow, they orginated in, or migrated to, Siberia where they were isolated in an area between the mountains and the Sea of Japan. There, they evolved separately. (Think of Australia.)
  • Some people think that Chows are the forebear of the Spitz; some think they are descended from the Spitz, which seems illogical. Why would a Spitz, with the anatomy of a normal dog, throw off a descendant with a blue tongue, 44 teeth and a different intestine, but all the other descendants be normal?
  • They belonged, first, to the Mongolians. Not much argument on this one. They were war dogs and hunting dogs.
  • The Mongolians, being traders, brought them to China, where they were pets of the Mandarins, who also used them for hunting dogs.
  • After the fall of the Mandarins, they were farmed for food. I really didn't want to accept this one, but I've come 'round.
  • The farmers' only concerns were to cull the troublemakers and to keep the blue tongue, the blue tongue being a sign of "prime" meat. What brought me to acceptance of the farming theory is noticing that Chows do not interact with each other.
  • Item: They love other dogs, want to meet them and play with them, but totally ignore their own kind. Occasionally Van-Ly wants to play with Nala, which annoys Nala no end. More often, Nala will want to play with Van-Ly, who just ignores her. Sometimes we meet other Chows. They all ignore each other.
  • Item: We took Io Jima, our first Chow, to be bred. Mme. Gondrin said, "We'll all go in the living room and chat and let the dogs get to know each other. We went into the living room with the dogs and sat down. The dogs sauntered up to each other, totally without interest, did simultaneous U-turns, and went to opposite windows to see if anything interesting was happening outside. From this, I learned why you use artificial insemination with Chows.
  • Maybe they're really related to pandas.