Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Correct Species Please

I affectionately refer to Red Rocket and Rachsie as, "my little red rats." However, I forget how literally 4 year olds interpret our statements. When we arrived home this afternoon I exclaimed, "Hello my little red rats!" and Edward quickly piped up, "No Mommy, they're not rats, they're dachshunds!"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Red Rocket Reminds No Chocolate!

Edward has just finished trick-or-treating and, of course, immediately wanted to dive into his bag full of goodies. He selected a popcorn ball and, as the photo documents, had a captive audience comprised of Maggie, Rachsie, and Red Rocket who all congregated at the foot of Edward's chair hoping that a morsel would drop. Edward's bag full of dog-toxic Halloween haul has been safely stashed on top of the refrigerator so we do not have a repeat of Red Rocket's chocolate orgy and subsequent veterinary intervention (got the credit card bill for that this morning...not pretty...).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Emma Memorial Pumpkin

Our babysitter is having surgery this week and so August has taken the afternoons off of work to watch Edward. Late this afternoon he called me at work to tell me that he was working on a jack-o-lantern that would put his pumpkin carving portrait of Red Rocket "to shame." When I arrived home he ushered me into our bedroom (the darkest room in the house) and there was a pumpkin portrait of Emma in all her splendor copied from one of my favorite photographs of her. It took him four hours to create the stencil and execute the carving. Parts of the collar flowers were carved with toothpicks. I was speechless. I immediately photographed it for the blog.

Tuesday is August's bowling league night so we needed to go out as soon as I got home to grab some dinner. He extinguished the candle in the Emma pumpkin and placed it up on the table and we went to dinner. When we returned home and I walked into the kitchen to put our leftovers in the fridge and looked over at the table........ Red Rocket had eaten the entire bottom portion of the pumpkin and was laying in a "beached whale" posture with a massively bloated belly on the dining room floor. I have never experienced the emotions I felt at that moment. I laughed and cried all at the same time. (I was able to laugh since I am well versed in the 'foods that are toxic to dogs' list and thankfully pumpkin is NOT one of those foods.)

August, however, was not so amused. Being the "problem solving" personality that he is, he headed straight for the garbage bin where he fished out the pumpkin scraps and began a reconstructive operation on Emma's portrait using toothpicks to interconnect sections of pumpkin. I took Red Rocket and left the premises seeking refuge at Niki and Randy's house (our neighbors). Niki offered a canine psychoanalysis by diagnosing Rocket with an acute case of jealousy, after all, he didn't eat the pumpkin with his own portrait on it which has been in the house for three days. After 20 minutes we returned to discovered that August had completed a pretty decent patch job. I doubt that in the dark anyone would notice the flaws although he is concerned that as the pumpkin shrinks and shrivels over the next several days that the patch job won't hold up until Halloween. I guess we'll see.

I tried to make August look on the bright side. I said, "Just think, this will make a GREAT post on the blog." He looked at me with a deadpan expression and said, "You can start off the blog entry with a message from Red Rocket saying, 'This is my last post...'"

Well, life number seven gone - six more to go!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

August is a superior pumpkin-carver and each Halloween we choose a theme for our jack-o-lanterns. The themes over the last several years have been selected to match Edward's halloween costume or current fascination. This year, well, you can guess the theme.

Winning the Heating Pad War

While the dachshunds may have won several of the recent battles over the heating pad I am determined to win the war. I have purchased these to heat their little sausage bodies...

How Do You Walk a Three-Legged Dog?, Part 2

The beautiful fall weather has had me longing to take the dogs walking but, of course, Red Rocket cannot tolerate movement over long distances. Thus, I have succumbed to the marketers of pet vanity products and have purchased a dog stroller. Red Rocket seemed to grasp the necessity of this mobility-assisting device and settled in immediately. This particular model is a travel stroller so we can fold it up and take it with us when we travel.

Lap Dogs

"Dachson" Tea Party

I, Red Rocket, in protest of the padlock which has been placed on the pantry door to prevent canine access to gourmet offerings - a decision that was made without canine representation at the family council meeting - hereby demonstrate my displeasure through the staging of a tea party.

Fall Break

Rachsie got her first family vacation as we hit the road and headed to Texas for Fall Break. Available lap space was limited as August was driving and I was sitting in the back next to Edward to keep him entertained. Red Rocket and Rachsie frequently perched on the center console waiting for the moment when my lap was clear so they could leap onto it.

Et tu Rachsie?

The heating pad saga continues... Now that the weather has turned really cold here the heating pad is a coveted spot for lounging or napping. In this photo Rachsie is "caught in the act" stealing the warm spot after I got off the couch to get something to drink.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sitting Pretty

Maggie, Rachsie and Red Rocket are all voracious eaters who have no qualms about stealing each other's meals and treats. Emma, of course, enforced a strict discipline policy in this regard and monitored individual bowls to ensure each member of the family got only his/her portion. However, her absence has resulted in a food consumption free-for-all. Daddy has taken over the nighttime cookie distribution and has designated a "presentation chair" to prevent treat theft. After the dogs have gone out for their last potties of the evening they are each lifted into the chair to be presented with their cookie. He attempts to teach them "sit" and "shake" in order to earn their cookies. Obviously, Red Rocket is unable to shake - he spontaneously developed this "sit pretty" routine to earn his treat.

Lap Dogs

It's so nice to be loved.

Triple Kisses

August receives kisses from Maggie, Rachsie and Red Rocket!

Strategic Maneuvers

Last Saturday morning Edward rallied the family into battle mode. Mommy was drafted to set up troop formations of Company Star Wars, Company Gormiti and Company Little Green Men and Edward commenced war games. Rachsie and Red Rocket were tapped as Generals who watched the battle from their perch up on the hill.

Changing Weather Let's Snuggle Together

This past week the temperature has dropped dramatically and we've had lows in the 40's. The nip in the air has induced Rachsie and Red Rocket to burrow under bedcovers and blankets together.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Edward, Rachsie and Red Rocket all crash for an afternoon nap on Mommy's lap!

Pretty Princess

Rachsie gets a new collar to match the one around Red Rocket's neck. She danced and pranced as Daddy put it on her.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Heating Pad Thief

This is all Dr. Olson's fault...spoiling Red Rocket with the heating pad (see earlier posts). He snatched it from me again this afternoon and clearly was not inclined to share.

Dirty Doggie

Rachsie offers a reproachful look while Red Rocket engages in some ungentlemanly personal grooming.


This morning I did something rare. I taught my 8:30 AM class and then immediately came home because I had an article to work on and I knew if I stayed at the office I'd be interrupted. It's a good thing I came home early. August had forgotten to lock the pantry door after he fed the dogs this morning and in the mere 30 minutes between August and Edward leaving the house and my return our three dachshunds had "unloaded" the lowest pantry shelf onto the dining room floor. The rug was littered with apple juice bottles, canned soup, tea bags, stuffing mix, and oatmeal. The oatmeal box was the easiest to access and it had been ripped open. Packets of apple-raisin oatmeal were strewn throughout the house - I found them in Emma's sick bed (which Rachsie has adopted as a favorite mischief spot), on the couch, on the bathroom rug, in the kitchen. Interspersed with the oatmeal packets were various toys that had also suffered at the paws of Red Rocket and Rachsie: an army figure decapitated and amputated at the wrists, the yellow wings ripped off a foam rocket, and a plastic beagle mutilated around the head and chest area. I had forgotten what it's like to have puppies in the house...

Morning Cartoons

I have to leave the house in the morning well before August and Edward so they often hit the couch together after getting out of bed where Edward watches Playhouse Disney and Daddy catches a few extra minutes of sleep with the dogs.

Three Dogs, One Lap

Grading papers is difficult with three dogs trying to squeeze each other out of the way to lay claim to your lap! (Emma was there in spirit - her pawprint was transferred from a mold made by Pet Angel to the pendant I am wearing in the picture.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Greeting Autumn with Abandon

Ahhhh...Autumn. A slight chill in the air, harvest gold and deep red tinting the tree leaves, the scent of bonfires, and the opportunity for miniature dachshunds to spend lots of time outside rolling in the compost heap. I was grading papers this afternoon when Rachsie scratched at the back door after spending a leisurely hour outside. I got up and opened the door to Rachsie and Red Rocket who both bounded in (Maggie loves the outdoors and elected to stay lounging on the deck.) I prepared myself a cup of coffee and wandered back to the couch to continue grading - my two miniatures eagerly awaiting a lap to snooze in. Red Rocket climbed up first and rolled onto his back, Rachsie followed snuggling next to him, placing her paws delicately over his stomach. I contentedly opened another blue book. And then it struck me. The smell. The unmistakable odor of domesticated hunting dogs who still feel biologically compelled to mask their scent in the most foul smelling excrement they can find. Perhaps, I thought, I can live with it and let them nap before I take them to the tub. The blue book belonging to my brightest student was in my hand and I sailed through it. The next book was fair but I had trouble concentrating to grade it. By the third book all the artists, titles, and dates were swirling as the lack of oxygen caused by holding my breath started to make me dizzy. No more grading. Time to bathe Red Rancid and Poopy Princess. The combination of water and tropical coconut pineapple dog shampoo was the equivalent of putting Red Bull into their water dish. Released from the bathroom they have spent the last 30 minutes racing through the house, rubbing against the carpets and furiniture in an attempt to dispel their fruity aroma, and wrestling each other with vigor.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"We are not amused."

After Red Rocket's chocolate orgy we instituted a new policy: when chocolate is being consumed inside the dogs must be outside. In this photo Red Rocket and Racshie gaze through the window of the back door shooting us looks similar to those teenagers give to overprotective parents. At least we'll be prepared ten years from now when Edward starts employing the classic sneer and narrowed eyes combination.

Snuggle Buddies

Rachsie uses Red Rocket as a pillow...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Introducing: Rachsie

I wouldn't consider myself a movie buff. I'm not very well-versed in pop culture. And I don't have the ability to watch a film once and start quoting lines from it. However, I do have a few favorite cinematic narratives that I watch over and over - often tied to the holidays. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving we watch White Christmas while putting up the tree and on quiet Easter afternoons we watch The Sound of Music. It's the latter film that offers a valuable piece of wisdom I often turn to in life: when God closes a door somewhere he opens a window. After Emma died I assumed that God had implemented this plan backwards and that Red Rocket had jumped through the window just as Emma was headed for the door. But now I have discovered that God's door-and-window plan is more complex than presented in The Sound of Music.

I received a frantic phone call from my neighbor ten days ago. A sweet dachshund needed to be rescued from a home where she was no longer welcome; since I "rescue dogs" would I be willing to take her? I must admit, I paused. I had just lost Emma. I wasn't ready. Would I be betraying Emma's memory by so quickly adopting another dog? Could I love another dog after the pain of Emma's loss? I agreed, hesitantly, to take the dog in for a few days for a test run. While I may have been hesitant about opening my heart to another dog, Red Rocket wasn't. This sweet, petite little girl pranced right into our house and Red Rocket fell in love. Her name is Roxie but I re-spelled it "Rachsie" as in "Dachsund." She was duly delivered to Dr. Olson for annual shots and a spay operation and she has settled in as if she's been here her whole life. We're her fourth home. My dear, departed best-friend Michael's lucky number was four - I think it's going to be Rachsie's lucky number as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Life's Little Luxuries Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous post, I purchased a new, larger heating pad with a soft flannel cover for Red Rocket and I to share. No sooner did I have it out on the bed than KASHA swooped in and decided to claim it as her nap spot!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life's Little Luxuries

I like a few, select reality television shows: Project Runway, the earlier seasons of The Apprentice, and The Mole. So my reality TV knowledge is pretty limited. I think there was one of those survival shows that I recall hearing about (but didn't watch) where the contestants were allowed to take one luxury item with them. If I had been on that show the choice would have been easy: heating pad. I remember as a child that my grandmother almost always had the heating pad in her chair on and as an adult I embrace and emulate that energy-wasting practice. During his "chocolate convalesence," Red Rocket was introduced to the luxury of the external warming device. At the emergency clinic they microwaved two bags of saline (that were about the same size as he is) and he lounged with his back against one and grasped the other between his paws and pulled it up against his stomach. When he was transferred to Dr. Olson's he was provided with a heating pad wrapped in a flannel blanket that covered most of the bottom of his cage. And now that he has returned home he has decided to steal MY heating pad as illustrated in the photo above. I went out and purchased a larger one so we can share!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Brownies, PTSD, and the Nine Lives of Red Rocket

I have a meeting in the morning with the Chief Information Officer/Associate Vice-President of Academic Affairs. He’s an amazingly energetic man who seems to perfectly balance teaching with administration, networks with zeal, and has an unbelievable ability to look with vision to the future. I know that behind every incredible man like him is an equally incredible administrative assistant who schedules, runs interference and problem solves with skill and acumen. And in the case of our CIO I’m positive his administrative assistant is a whiz because she’s one of my former students! So, this afternoon I was thinking that I should take her a little gift in the morning, something special but casual. Brownies would be good. But as I unwrapped the individually bundled squares of unsweetened baking chocolate to start the batch I was seized by a wave of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And this is where I must confess that another reason for my long hiatus from the Red Rocket Report is that a week after Emma died Red Rocket ate a half-pound of baking chocolate and nearly died too…

It never would have happened if Emma were alive. She guarded everything with a vengeance: the house, me, food left out on the counter, Edward, the cats, food left on the coffee table – she was more formidable than the Berlin Wall, Fort Knox and Area 57 combined. So, without her to stand guard, while we were at work and Edward was at school one morning, Red Rocket hopped onto a dining room chair, onto the dining room table and unpacked a large grocery bag of non-perishable items I had left on the table. Kleenex (not tasty enough), macaroni and cheese (too crunchy), can of green beans (too difficult to access), large bags of pecans and walnuts (a possibility but looks too much like dog kibble), hmm…look at this lovely orange box that smells to heaven and is so easy to rip apart. This is wonderful, I will carefully unwrap each delectable ounce and consume it with gusto. All seven pounds of me eating all 8 ounces of this luscious, sweetly-narcotic, dog toxin…

I arrived home at 4:00 and immediately knew something was wrong. Red Rocket didn’t greet me at the door. He was hunched over the pillows on the sofa, shaking, crying. When I lifted him up and set him down on the rug his legs collapsed and he fell to the floor. I grabbed him, I grabbed Edward, and 30 seconds later I was speeding toward Dr. Olson’s. I called my husband on my cell phone on the way, “Something’s terribly, terribly, wrong with Red Rocket!” He confessed: he had found an empty box of chocolate on the dining room floor at Noon but everyone seemed fine. He e-mailed me and left me a phone message but I was in meetings all afternoon and didn’t receive the report. I hung up on him. I raced through Eastborough at 45 MPH determined that the cop running radar could just follow me to Dr. Olson’s – but the angels were watching and the radar gun was off. I wove erratically in and out of traffic with Red Rocket writhing on the seat beside me. Pray, pray, please Emma…make him be alright. Another sharp weave around someone awaiting a left turn. “Wheeeee!” Edward exclaims from the back seat. Hang on, baby, please Rocket hang on. Another weave to try and sail through the yellow light and that’s when it happens. Lurching car, rolling stomach, Red Rocket opens his mouth and a creamy smooth cascade of chocolate dog vomit runs like lava over the edge of car seat, down the side of my linen computer purse, to pool and bubble on the car mat. The sickly sweet aroma permeated the stuffy air of the car and the sight and smell evoked memories of a chocolate fountain on a dessert display table at a half-million dollar wedding I once attended in New York years ago. Cell phone: call Dr. Olson and prepare him for poison control. I sped into the parking lot honking my horn. Sarah came running out. “I think he’s dying!” I yelled as I shoved his limped, chocolate-vomit covered body into her arms.

Friends who have heard this tale are all in agreement: Red Rocket must have a strand of feline DNA encoded with nine lives in his genetic make-up. After four days of IV fluids, charcoal infusions, heart rate monitoring and blood tests he emerged happy and energetic as ever: but with seven lives instead of the eight he had after the car hit and amputation. We plan on making them the best seven lives of his life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Emma 1999-2009

To Fans and Friends of the Red Rocket Report:

I apologize for my long hiatus from the Red Rocket Report but I have been in mourning. On Sunday, August 30 I lost my sweet, beloved Emma. As you all know from reading previous posts she was suffering from lymphoma which attacked without warning, quickly and aggressively. On Saturday, August 29 she could barely move and was taken to the veterinary emergency clinic for a blood transfusion. Sadly, just prior to the transfusion she developed a heart arrythmia which did not resolve and by Sunday morning we knew that her time had come. Bless Dr. Olson, he came to the house so she could die in my arms in our bed. Penny from Pet Angel Memorial Center also gave up her Sunday afternoon to come to the house and collect Emma. She, Shelly and Ronda arranged a beautiful visitation and have helped all of us work through our grief. The house is so quiet without her and her loyalty and constancy are deeply missed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Young Veterinarian

This morning as I walked through the living room I saw Edward stroking Emma's head with the plastic goalposts from his play football set. When I asked, "Edward what are you doing?" He replied, "I'm making Emma feel better."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Devotional Art

I am teaching a graduate level seminar on devotional art this semester. We're exploring the many ways people of the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance used art as a device for channeling prayers, appealing for intercession, and enacting healing miracles. Here's a thirteenth-century manuscript illumination of St. Roch - patron saint of sickness and dogs - which I dedicate to Emma and to all of you who are following her story on the Red Rocket Report. Thanks for your comments and good wishes.

Bon Appetit

Our babysitter had to take the afternoon off today which was probably divine providence. August picked Edward up after his morning of preschool and was able to be home with Emma and shuttle her over to Dr. Olson when he called late this afternoon. He gave her a shot around 3:30 to help assuage her lethargy and when I arrived home at 5:30 she did get up and greet me at the door. She eventually wandered into the kitchen to watch me make dinner and she did perk her ears up several times when I spoke to her. August offered her a lovely bowl of Science Diet throughout the day and she would turn her nose away. I stopped at the market on the way home from work and picked up ground sirloin and rice. As I browned the beef in the pan on the stove Emma raised her nose in the air to take a whiff. I presented it to her on Edward's Sesame Street plate and it didn't look too elegant but it did the trick - she ate most of it.

Abandoning the Sick Bed

Sometime during the middle of the night Emma abandoned her sick bed and jumped into bed with us. When the alarm went off this morning, however, she didn't move - didn't even raise her head. She wagged her tail when I spoke to her but showed no interest in breakfast. She did patiently allow me to administer the syringe of her beef-flavored vitamin supplement and drank some water.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sick Bed

Emma used to follow me everywhere. I would often lose my patience with her because if I suddenly turned around to go in another direction I would trip over her. Today she is not following me around. She spent most of the afternoon laying under the dining room table. She also used to jump dozens of times a day: up and down, on and off the couch and the big red chair and the guest bed in the basement and our bed upstairs. She has stopped jumping. I went out and bought a bed for her and placed it next to our bed. August carried her into it after her evening trip outside and she has been there for the last hour while we are out in the living room. Edward picked out a giant stuffed camel to put in the bed with her. This is so heartbreaking for me and probably for her too. I am seriously contemplating sleeping on the floor next to her sick bed.

Dear Old Dog

Emma is probably about 10 or 11 years old now. Since I adopted her we don't know her exact birthday. She's gotten grey around the chin but has mostly been healthy. But this morning she lost her balance and fell on the way outside. And later this morning she fell again after greeting me at the front door as I returned home from work. We visited Dr. Olson. And he suspects lymphoma... We await the test results and love, love, love her. Edward has offered many hugs this afternoon. He has asked if Emma's leg is broken like Red Rocket's.

Minty Fresh (We Hope)

Red Rocket occasionally suffers from a wicked case of halitosis. To look on the bright side, I rarely oversleep because as he licks my face in bed in the mornings I would rather rise than asphyxiate from the smell. To look at the glass half empty, I have exceeded my grocery budget several times over the past few weeks as I dished out extra money for organic dog biscuits infused with the essence of parsley to control his condition. Edward and I also made a trip to Petsmart to purchase this mint-flavored plastic bone in the hopes of quelling his bad breath.

Sock Thief

Red Rocket is a sock thief. He removes socks from laundry piles. He steals socks that are stuffed inside tennis shoes. And this sock he lifted from my purse. Once again Dr. Freud must ponder if his loss of a foot has led to a foot fetish...

Snuggle Time

On a lazy Sunday morning I was rewarded with two special treats: a Starbucks coffee delivered by August and Edward and four bed buddies!

Fighting for a Lap

Owning "lap dogs" and "lap cats" is wonderful. Every time you sit down there is a warm, furry creature to keep you warm. However, having two lap dogs and two lap cats can lead to sibling rivalry. Red Rocket and Sophie, both being obstinate creatures, refused to yield August's lap one morning and therefore had to share.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Angels and Dachshunds

Red Rocket enjoys a little light evening reading.


This evening as I prepared Edward's bubble bath Red Rocket raced into the bathroom to look into the tub (this is his usual routine.) Edward, however, decided to break with routine tonight and when he looked into the tub declared, "no bubbles!" So Red Rocket and I began the process of scooping the bubbles out of the tub and rinsing them into the sink. We all got a little goofy - here's Red Rocket as a bubblehead!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Mother Ship

During an elaborate session of lego play Red Rocket pretends to be the International Space Station offering docking areas for the smaller shuttles that visit the pink universe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Labor Saving Devices

Dogs and cats are the best labor saving devices. Who dares to disturb their slumbers by straightening the pillows on the couch or making the bed?

Dog Blog

Red Rocket reads the latest comments posted to the Report. Thanks fans!