Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hot Head

After several warm evenings requiring open windows and the whir of the ceiling fan to create an environment comfortable for sleeping the temperature has dropped and the heating pad is back out. Red Rocket managed to sneak his head onto the warm surface when Momma got out of bed for a drink of water.
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Spring Spruce Up

When Emma was alive and still an "only child" I bought her a new collar with matching dog tag every season. Now that there are four canines to outfit that luxury has been abandoned. I have been searching for new collars for the dogs for several months now as Red Rocket and Rachsie's faux Burberry plaid is shredding and the hairs on Hank's leopard skin are molting to reveal an unattractive green plastic skin. The last straw came when Maggie lost the name tag off of her collar earlier this week. Send your reports to Vogue Dogue: this season's look is basic black leather with silver trim and matching silver tags all made in the U.S.A.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Commence: Operation Manipulate Momma. A Diary of Maneuvers and Engagements by Captain Red Rocket

5:50 AM  Commence Operation Obtain Breakfast.  Ground assault begins with ascent of Pillow Peak and body bombing of Mount Momma.  Momma reacts accordingly and assists Company Rocket Rebels in their descent from the bed to the chow line.  Bolt breakfast. 

5:51 AM  Commence Operation Fertilize Garden

5:52 AM  Commence Operation Back-to-Bed. 

10:30 AM  Commence Operation Starbucks.  Muster troops and report to duty station front door.  In disorderly fashion pile into Humvee for transport to the local java hut.

10:40 AM  Mission complete.  Return to base.  Troops briefly diverted to provide humanitarian aid to malnourished tree in the front yard.

10:41 AM  Commence Operation Nap-in-Momma-Lap.  Field conditions are difficult as terrain shifts and Captain endures the assults of Sunday newspaper sections and fellow Rocket Rebels competing for lap space.

11:45 AM  Commence Operation Squirrel Hunt.  Daddy provides field support using garden implements.  Edward provides sand for shoring positions.  Hank sent on recon.  Mission fails.  Back to nap.

2:00 PM  Momma returns from supply station with rations and munitions.  Captain Rocket leads field exercises to test the new "flappy bomb" composed of a surely combustible substance disguised in a casing of orange and lavendar flannel.

3:00 PM  Retreat to the brig with new weapons system for debriefing and nap.  Embedded CNN Reporter captures an image of a weary Captain Rocket with the new weapon.  Consider possible charges for revealing National Security information and not allowing the Captain to brush his ears before the photo.

5:00 PM  Commence Operation Desire Dinner.  Rocket Rebels attack Daddy with sharp claws.  Chow is promptly provided.

5:05 PM  Commence Operation Double Dinner.  Feline intelligence operatives report that Momma was laundering in the latrines during chowtime.  She is thus unaware that the troops have already been through the chow line.  A surprise attack results in victory!  Momma fills the chow bowls a second time.  Three of the six Rocket Rebels are able to bolt the entire second meal before Daddy starts screaming.  Too full for evening maneuvers.  Nap.

8:45 PM  LPs (last potties).  Rocket Rebels are put through an agonizing series of endurance tests to earn cookies.  Captain Rocket must sit.  Maggie and Rachsie must shake.  Hank must roll over. 

8:47 PM  Retire.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Red Rocket's long body makes a perfect soft, warm headrest for Hank as the boys settle in for the night.
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

We stopped at Starbucks on the way to Dr. Olson's for Maggie's annual shots. They gave her a lid full of whipped cream for being so cute!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pâté de foie gras or Rubber Chicken?

Meet "Baby."  This rubber chicken in a Santa suit was purchased last year as a Christmas gift for Red Rocket.  Loyal readers of the Red Rocket Report will understand this next reference: when presented with this squeaky rubber chicken Red Rocket set upon him as if attacking the carcass of Fatty Fatacre.  Edward, horrified, immediately began screaming, "Baby crying! Baby crying!" and the chicken was liberated from Red Rocket's jaws, bundled into a kitchen towel, and put to cradle in Edward's bed.  Ever since this rather sorry-looking creature has been Edward's "Baby" and off limits to the dogs.  I must admit, I was a bit mystified by Edward's attachment to this toy until, at a "girls' night out" dinner at the home of a Red Rocket Report reader, I interacted with the infamous "Sophie the Giraffe" teething toy, the favorite of French babies for decades.  I had seen "Sophie the Giraffe" unveiled at the baby shower six months ago but she was confined behind the plastic of a gift box and therefore I was unable to ascertain the texture of the toy.  Imagine my surprise when I attempted to entertain Baby Helen with Sophie and discovered that she was little more than a rubber chicken in the guise of a euro-giraffe.  The rubbery skin and high-pitched squeal that emanated from Sophie were identical to those of Edward's "Baby."  The difference: "Baby" costs $3.99 at Petsmart and "Sophie" goes for $29.99 at the baby boutiques (and $17.99 through the online discount sites).  I will leave commentary to the loyal readers of the Red Rocket Report...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Playing with the Big Dog Toys

Last weekend while grocery shopping I walked down the pet aisle and caught sight of a massive, 2 foot long rawhide bone.  Walking briskly past it I thought to myself, "who would buy such a thing?"  Wait.  Me.  "Wouldn't you rather have Hank chew that than the leg of your dining room chair?" queried the little devil's voice inside my head.  Why, yes, a practical and functional purchase even if I look like Darth Vader trapped in the land of the canines wielding the thing through the store.  The brief embarrassment was worth it upon returning home and presenting Hank with such a prize.  He immediately devoured half of it and then paused and left it on the living room carpet to seek out and drink the entire gallon of water in the automatic dog-watering station.  That's when it happened.  Red Rocket launched the great rawhide heist, bolting into the living room and dragging the half-eaten rawhide (which was a long as he is) into the safety of his cage where Hank was unable to recover it...

Lap Dogs

The problem with having four lap dogs is that there aren't usually enough laps in the house to go around.  This makes Maggie disgruntled and she retreats to the seculsion and comfort of the master bed where she snoozes warm and undisturbed.  Hank possess the classic "I'm a lap dog and NO, I'm not too big for it" attitude, but the reality is that he is too big and so he must usually settle for being a "beside the lap" dog.  Rachsie and Red Rocket, however, are firm believers in lap possession even if they are forced to share.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rest in Peace, Fatty Fatacre

Perhaps it was lethargy caused by the bitter cold.  Perhaps it was extra pounds acquired during a hibernatory orgy.  Perhaps it was a slip on an icy branch.  Whatever it was, when Hank dashed out of the back door this afternoon in hot pursuit of Fatty Fatacre, our resident squirrel, Fatty was not fast enough and Hank was victorious.  Adding to the horrificness of this senseless slaughter was Red Rocket's contribution to the carnage: I found him dismembering Fatty Fatacre by the back door.  I am distraught that my sweet dogs have turned into squirrel murderers but I suppose this is what one gets for adopting breeds from the hunting class.  I will spare readers of the Red Rocket Report the photo of Fatty's entombment in a Dillon's grocery sack.  There will be no dog kisses tonight and the water bowls will be spiked with Listerine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Terms of Endearment

Earlier this evening Edward took Red Rocket's face into his hands, leaned his forehead against Red Rocket's forehead, and said, "I love you very, very, very, very much Rocket."


Yesterday was Edward's sixth birthday.  As a "big boy" he rarely naps but the excitement of birthday treasures and adventures at Chuckie Cheese led to a late morning collapse on the couch earlier today.  Red Rocket happily snuggled in next to him and as I walked by the two of them I headed for the camera in anticipation of a snapshot of the pair snoozing away.  But Rocket heard his Momma and emerged from his slumber to pose in what I truly think is the most regal countenance I have ever captured.  He reminds me of one of those lion guardian figures from the famous monuments of the ancient world.  Granted, Kojo the blanket/pillow/gator draped around his neck perhaps diminishes the royal demeanor a bit... Perhaps we can Photoshop that out and insert a velvet and ermine cloak like the one in the famous portrait of King Louis XIV.  Like King Louis, Rocket has the hair to pull off that look.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

His Fame Continues....

When I opened this morning's Wichita Eagle and pulled out the Saturday "Home and Garden" section my eye was immediately drawn to the header photo of a black-and-tan dachshund accompanied by the teaser "Long and Low: Dachshunds are Little Dogs with Big Ideas."  "Now here's an article that's right up my alley," I thought as I struggled to turn the page to the feature.  The report began with the story of Oscar, a dachshund who was hit by a car, taken to Heartland Animal Hospital, received a leg amputation with Magnum Fund money, and was now up for adoption from PALS Animal Rescue.  Sound familiar?  I was already aware of Oscar's situation as a young woman interested in adopting him had contacted me to ask about our experience adopting and living with Red Rocket.  I had not anticipated, however, that Red Rocket's story would be recounted in the article as the "success story" that inspired Oscar's rescue.  Red Rocket's fame lives on...share the Red Rocket love...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Scene of the Crime

Interrupted robbery in progress, assailant fled. Suspect is 3 feet tall, 65 pounds, with chocolate brown hair. Suspect is armed with large brown whip that can inflict serious injury. Absconded with 9 chocolate chip cookies. Suspect will no doubt experience intestinal distress and will be unpleasant to sleep with tonight. Anonymous tips can be left at 1-800-STOP-HANK.
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Pillow Pet

Hank uses Maggie as a pillow during an afternoon nap on the couch.
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

You Betcha' Dogga' Blogga'

So, did you think we wouldn't get blogging?  Break out your reading glasses and a comfortable chair.  It's not Gone with the Wind or War and Peace but it's a massive dog-blogging effort!  Oh, and by the way, we've posted enough stuff today that you'll need to hit "older posts" to read it all!

Blog-a-thons Are Exhausting

It's hard to stay motivated when the canines around you are all lounging.  Of course, there are NO PILLOWS LEFT FOR ME IN THIS HOUSE!!! so even if I wanted to collapse in exhaustion I'd have a tough time finding a comfortable spot.

Here Comes Santa Claus

Lethal Weapon

Hank has a lethal tail.  So lethal, in fact, that two recent guests who have been visiting and playing with Edward on the floor have requested ice packs after getting thumped in the head by Hank's happy wagger.  I feared for all of my glass Christmas ornaments but remembered that one of the best Christmas memories from my youth was watching in horror as the family dachshunds, during a heated game of chase, got tangled in the lights of my Grandmother's Christmas tree and brought the whole ensemble crashing to the ground.  The Victorian style ornaments we bought her over the next three years to replace the ones destroyed by our dachshunds hang on my tree today.  Hank did well.  He only broke two. 


As I prepared the oyster dressing for Thanksgiving I had four, very rapt supervisors.  The aroma of the oysters had them jumping in the air!


Which is softer and warmer after Edward's bath?  The pink towel or Hank?

Remembering Emma, Part 2

Every year on the anniversary of her adoption day I held a brunch in Emma's honor.  The official adoption day was November 17 and after two years of holding the brunch in Wichita one of our guests dubbed the occasion, "the kickoff event of the Wichita holiday season."  Some years the turnout for Emma's brunch filled the house to overflowing, other years it was a quieter event with just our closest friends; this year it was the latter.  So I was able to plan a sit-down, rather than the traditional buffet-style, brunch.  The meal ended just the way Emma always liked: with dogs licking the leftovers out of the sausage-egg casserole dish!

Remembering Emma, Part 1

I adopted Emma when I was living in Austin, Texas and 3 or 4 times a week I would take her to the dog section of Barton Springs where she rejoiced in frolicking in the water and playing "run after but do not retrieve the sticks thrown for me."  Over the past year and a half since her death I have been collecting rocks from all the lakes we have visited.  Since I didn't take geology as one of my science and math electives in college I probably can't accurately label the types of rocks I have gathered.  I call them pink granite because they all have a pinkish cast and their composition reflects the texture of granite sculptures I have studied, but, as previously disclaimed, I am no expert.  I've used these rocks to create memorial gardens for Emma in our yard.  The first set I collected now borders the rose garden in the section of the backyard where Emma liked to sniff around.  The second set was in a rather inelegant heap at the side of the house until October when I finally purchased the pink tulip bulbs to populate the planned front yard memorial garden.  August and Edward and I all worked together to plant and feed the tulip bulbs, cover them with chicken wire to prevent the squirrels from eating them, and finally placing the rocks over and around the garden bed. 


"You don't need to stand there and watch me, Mom.  I'm not even the slightest bit interested in snatching cereal from that bowl Edward is precariously holding over the arm of the chair.  No, the side of my lip is NOT raised in anticipation of an accidental (or not so accidental) spill of the cereal.  I'm just smiling with gratitude that you feed me sumptuous beef-infused morsels while you force your dear child to eat dry grains."

Fire Chief

Edward brought home loads of souvenirs from fire prevention week at school and his homework was to collaborate with family members to develop a household fire safety and evacuation plan.  Edward decided Rachsie should be the family fire chief, and given her propensity for barking orders, I think he made the logical choice.

Bathed in Sunlight

One of my favorite coffee-table books is Cats in the Sun, a volume full of photographs of cats in the Greek Isles basking in the sun-drenched landscapes full of stuccoed houses and fisherman's quarters.  The luminous aesthetic of the photos has always inspired me.  Capturing this lighting is, in my opinion, much more effective with an old-fashioned SLR camera but I've snapped a few decent images by turning the flash off on the digital camera.

Braving the Cold without a Coat

When the weather turned cold I made the tremendous mistake of throwing my winter coat over the back of the chair the first day I wore it.  The result: I haven't been able to wear it since.  There is always an animal (or two) curled up on it, napping contentedly, buffered from the cold draughts.  I haven't the heart to displace this hibernatory instinct so I've spent the last six weeks wearing either my ratty old camel hair coat with the shredded lining and the hole under the arm or wrapped in the woolen shawl I bought when I lived in Belgium and used in lieu of a bathrobe since I was travelling light.

Attempts at Bonding, Part 4

Hank and Red Rocket have bonded well.  As with most brotherly relationships, this bond is frequently expressed through roughhousing, but there are the quiet moments when a nap together is just the ticket.

Attempts at Bonding, Part 3

While Sophie and Maggie's attempts at bonding with Hank have been tentative, Rachsie has had no reservations.  Or perhaps she wishes to assert herself as the alpha dog.  Hank frequently gets a belly rub from August in the mornings after breakfast.  On this particular morning Rachsie decided hers should be the belly rubbed and since she wasn't big enough to unseat Hank she just lounged on top of him!

Attempts at Bonding, Part 2

Each night at bedtime Sophie used to lovingly clean the inside of Emma's ears.  After Emma's death I had hoped that Sophie would bond with one of the dachshunds but that personality pairing has not born fruit.  When Hank joined the household I wondered if Sophie might adopt him for her motherly ministrations.  And there has been a small measure of progress.  Sophie has commenced her head-cleaning activites a few times.  The problem is that Hank tries to return the favor and the minute his big muzzle hits Sophie's face she lets out a disgusted grunt-and-hiss noise and clears the area.  Hank might learn to stay still and enjoy the bath one of these days.  We continue to hope.

Attempts at Bonding, Part 1

Hank continues to try and bond with Maggie through gentle nuzzles-and-licks and initiations of play.  Maggie, for the most part, remains her stoic self, but there are brief moments of reciprocation.  During the pictured encounter Hank approached cautiously and was initially welcomed but when he dropped into the play posture Maggie went into razor-back mode and it was "game over."

The More Things Stay the Same, Part 3

Our German hunting dog genes continue to compel us to capture and eviscerate any wildlife we encounter: even if it is a lime-green and orange stuffed duck.  The added bonus is the indoor snowfall of white fluff that blankets the living room and commemorates the hunt.

The More Things Stay the Same, Part 2

August continues to take the four dogs with him every weekend to Starbucks.  They now know he's going even before the name of the coffeehouse is mentioned and they eagerly gather at the front door in anticipation of the ride.  August teases them mercilessly by unlocking the handle, deadbolt and chain with agonizing slowness.  The minute the inner door is open they crowd the screen door awaiting release to race to the truck.

The More Things Stay the Same, Part 1

The favorite game of Red Rocket, Rachsie, and Hank remains tug-of-war.  Hank is almost always the instigator and frequently dangles rope toys over the heads of Red Rocket and Rachsie to engage them or over our hands to entice us to play.  Hank's jaws can grip like a steel vise and he revels in "swing-your-partner" tug-of-war with August.  Red Rocket has figured out that he needs to enlist the aid of others if he wants to keep any of his 9 pounds on the ground during a tug session with Hank.

Cat Commercialism

In for a penny, in for a pound.  After the acquisition of "Kojo" who was immediately appropriated as a sleeping device by Red Rocket, I felt the need to provide a snuggling space for the feline members of the Red Rocket family.  I seriously considered the heated pet bed but the cheapskate in me overruled that proposition.  So I headed to the feline products aisle of Petsmart and pondered the offerings.  A cat house?  No, Kasha can sometimes be afraid of enclosed spaces after that incident of getting shut into the bathroom cabinet.  One of those carpet-covered climbers?  More exepensive and uglier than the heated pet bed.  What is this cardboard thing that looks like the bottom of a smashed shoebox?  A cat cradle which multi-functions as a scratcher and bed.  They will never use this, I think, as I put it into the shopping cart.  Oh boy was I wrong...

Meet Kojo

Have you seen the media blitz promoting "Pillow Pets" on television?  For $19.99 you can get a fabulously fluffy animal with special snaps on the bottom that converts the creature into a pillow.  Edward, no doubt joining millions of children worldwide, would yell "I want that!" when the Pillow Pet commercials interrupted his morning cartoons.  Enter Kojo, an upgraded competitor's product: part alligator, part pillow, part blanket.  A Cesarean-section styled zipper in Kojo's tummy allows for the release of an almost full-sized blanket.  Said blanket can be stuffed back into Kojo's innards to convert him into a pillow and two velcro straps can instantly turn him into a gator toy.  As loyal followers of the Red Rocket Report know, Red Rocket loves anything pillow!  And yes, the perspective of the photo is correct.  Kojo is bigger than Rocket!