Category Archives: Two Cutes

It’s All About Tucker

Last month, I wrote about Tucker, the wonder dog.

Tucker can no longer walk – it’s been about 3 weeks.  My brother, Jason, has been carrying him everywhere and ensuring his dignity in every way.  Jason beat cancer in his early 20s (he’s now almost 40) and is very tough – clearly tougher than I am.  I don’t know that I could do what he has done for his best friend.  The situation with Tucker is very similar to human situations.  The difference is that it is not practical for dogs to use wheel chairs.  This creates a challenge that results in having to consider difficult decisions before a person is ready.

I realize people that don’t have strong relationships with animal companions will wonder why Jason did not make a tough decision a while ago.  I cannot convince you and will not try.  You either get it or you don’t.  I get it, so do all my siblings, my mother, her husband, and many friends.  I believe it has everything to do with how animals impacted someone’s childhood and/or significant portions of their life.  Review statistics on the subject.  All support the concept that people enjoy a better life with animal companions.  One of my university minors was statistics, so I know that statistics can be manipulated to express the desired results, but these stats are consistent.

Tucker’s condition has not been easy for me, at all.  My two animal companions, Izzy and Maise, are 11 and 8 years old.  The younger one is a rescue from a puppy mill, so it has been difficult, since she has had such a negative and fearful reaction to humans.

In a tribute to Tucker, the wonder dog, here are some photos for all to enjoy.

Update 11/29/11:  Tucker found peace with the help of Dr. Tom Skadron on 11/28/11.


Dinner with Tucker

Tucker is a 12 year old Golden Retriever and my brother’s (the one on the phone – the other is his fraternal twin) best friend.  He has travelled all over the country – including the BWCA, Yellowstone, Tahoe – in the back of a Ford Explorer, a Toyota 4Runner, and a canoe.   He has been certified as an official therapy dog and has delighted many a hospital guest with his personality.  Tucker is a highly disciplined and intelligent dog.  He learned to retrieve his blanket and manage his large tail around beverage glasses.  He loves everyone and has the signature Golden Retriever smile.

Tucker is also thought to have bone cancer.  In the past several months, he has lost the use of one of his front legs, but is relatively mobile on the other three legs.  My brother set up an all inclusive resort at his home – bed, food, water, toys, all on a beautiful deck.
Tucker is a happy dog and is really enjoying the expanded diet my brother is now sharing with him.  In the past, Tucker was not allowed table scraps or people food, but he has been known to steal, yes, steal, a lemon bismarck right off Grandpa’s table.  He is also partial to toast.  This week, he enjoyed a ribeye steak with his best friend.

Tucker could be with us for several months or, hopefully, years.  We will enjoy every minute of it.

[Tucker is under the careful care of an amazingly compassionate and intelligent veterinarian, Tom Skadron.]

Izzy Found a New Pillow

With temperatures near 25 degrees Fahrenheit, Izzy relaxes with her new pillow, an impressive pile of snow.

Izzy, the most amusing dog I know

Isabel loves the snow and treats herself to snow baths whenever there is new snowfall.

Blizzard, Pumpkin bread, mulled cider and wine

It’s all over the news today – Minnesota’s autumn (technically) blizzard.  About one foot U.S. has fallen since late last night.  I have blown snow from the driveway once and a helpful young man in the neighborhood is working on his second round with all of us.  It’s fortunate I have been spending time with the NordicTrack and eating healthy.  I was pushing snow and an 8 h.p. dual stage Toro around this morning for 80 minutes.

Local reports indicate this storm dropped more snow than the 1991 Halloween blizzard.  [I was amazed to find that Wikipedia has an entry for the “Halloween Blizzard.”  Check it out.]
I remember, well, the 1991 blizzard.  I planned a big Halloween party for Saturday night.  I love Halloween.  I got the call at 7 AM Friday morning that the office was closed for the day.  I spent much of Friday and Saturday cleaning and preparing for the party.  I was worried that the party would be a bust because of the snow.  I had myself a little pity party at 8 PM on Saturday when no one was there.  Sure enough, people start arriving within the hour – fun party and funny memories.

NOAA reported that my piece of the state had 11.1 inches of snow at 2 PM CT today, 12/11/10 (note the cool reverse sequence on the date).  I’m thinking there must have been 2-3 inches since that time.

When I finally admitted to myself that I was stranded in the house for the day, I thought I would try a pumpkin bread (more like cake) recipe that had been waiting a week for me.  It is really fabulous, but I may be biased because I love anything with pumpkin and spices.  Give it a try.  I recommend you double the spices.
It’s a perfect choice for a day like today.  Even better that I have Greg Norman Pinot Noir, Penzey’s Mulling Spices, and apple cider.  This collection makes Minnesota winter almost magical.

Maise – 3 Weeks of History

Much of the genesis for Two Cutes was due to Maise, my second female Keeshond.  I unearthed my writings from 2007 on her first days with me.

Week One
New adventures in Lakeville this week!  I adopted a second female Keeshond that was rescued from a puppy mill.  It has been challenging, comical, and rewarding.  At this point, my neighbor, Ruth, can get closer to Maise than I can.  I’m not letting that fact get to me…much.

She is approximately 5 years old and her name is Maise (pronounced May-zee), my creative variation of the Scottish Gaelic form of Margaret [Maisie, Maisey, Masie (all pronounced May-see)].  A few early observations:

  • Rescued 3-4 months ago from a puppy mill in Wisconsin.  Came to the Homeward Bound Rescue ( shelter pregnant.
  • One of her puppies was adopted by my former manager at Frontier and his wife.  They now have 3 Keeshonds – 2 males & 1 female.
  • Formerly named Dusk/Mama (foster home), formerly Milly (1 day – Saturday)
  • At this point, she doesn’t recognize any of her names, new or old. 

Maise began her life in Lakeville on Saturday, August 4, 2007, in the pouring rain.  I learned that puppy mill survivors don’t really know how to be dogs & need to be taught by other dogs.  For that reason, shelters recommend they be placed in homes with other dogs.  They are also leery of humans.  She won’t come to me yet & keeps 3-4 feet away from me at all times.  However, she does watch and follow me.  It’s getting better every day.  Once I’m holding her, she won’t make eye contact.  I have to catch her to get her into the kennel.  Yeah, that is hilarious at 1 AM in the morning, when she wants to go out, but won’t come back in the house.  She is not yet fully housetrained, according to her foster parents, but I haven’t seen any sign that she doesn’t have a strong command of the basics.  Two accidents this week, once in each spare bedroom.  It seems like she might be trying to make her presence known in the house.  She’s mellow and has only barked once and whined once or twice.  Her fur isn’t in ideal shape.  She looks good from the front, but mangy from the back.  She’s also started the seasonal undercoat shedding, so she’s missing a lot of fur.  Her foster family bathed her on Friday night before I saw her on Saturday.  I expect she was shaven because her fur was matted & dirty.  She was also spayed.  She’s about 5-10 pounds lighter than Izzy & shorter.  Izzy has stopped giving me that evil eye, but may not yet be convinced that this other dog is not just a visitor.  I’ve seen signs that Izzy might like her, but she’s trying not to let me see that. 

Maise’s tail has mostly been down, but there have been times when it’s up and curled.  Her ears are almost always up.  It’s different than Izzy, whose tail is curled very tightly on her back all the time, but her ears are down when she’s uncomfortable or under stress. 

Maise’s jaw is a little out of alignment, she’s missing a couple of small front teeth, and has a fang that juts out a bit, giving her a cute look.  She is now “crooked face” and Izzy retains the nick name “cute face.”  She has a spot on her back that she’s been bothering.  Vet visit next week will determine if it’s anything more than a hot spot.

 This week was spent just observing Maise and trying to understand what does and doesn’t scare her and how to develop trust.  It’s surprising how hard it is to have a dog that doesn’t want to get close to you.  I’m struggling with how to handle the housetraining.  She freaks out when cornered and doesn’t like being locked into the kennel.  She very much enjoys her freedom in the backyard.  The first day, I gave her a small rawhide and she did a little jump dance with her tail up. 

 Week Two
Each day, Maise gets more comfortable with her surroundings.  Sometime this week or last week, she jumped on the bed on her own.  We had two big thunderstorms.  Maise was sleeping on the family room floor and I took her up to the bedroom and put her on the bed to hopefully get some sleep.

Izzy is afraid of thunder and normally barks at the thunder to make it go away.  This makes it difficult to sleep during Minnesota summer thunderstorms.  I guess the thunderstorms and Maise were too much for her.  I had to retrieve Izzy during the thunderstorm from the back yard.  Once Maise discovered the bed, she was hooked.  Izzy gave her some boundaries to consider, as this is her territory.

First vet visit this week.  Vet wanted to look more closely at the spot on her back.  She shaved it and thought it was just a hot spot.  Now Maise needs to wear an old tshirt, so she doesn’t scratch at it.

Week Three
Maise seems to be developing some non-positive patterns.  She still won’t come in the house when I’m near or in the doorway.  I need to outsmart her in order to get her into the house.

Maise went to Mom’s for the first time.  It took me almost an hour to get a leash on her, and that was only after Ruth helped me by coming in behind to close the back door.  She did well at Mom’s, but we had the same problem in retrieving her.  My brother, Jason, finally nabbed her as I walked by with Maise following the treat in my hand.  Izzy stayed at Mom’s on Saturday for a break and to play with her best pal, Sadie.  Maise was much less social without Izzy.  I decided I needed to keep her constrained while outside to avoid the chase.  I took her for a walk alone and didn’t get very far.  She resisted and I wasn’t able to get further than a few houses south and not even to the corner at the north.  At one point, I was walking backwards, talking to Maise, and motivating her with a treat in my hand.  A bicyclist rode by me with a wide, knowing smile. 

Izzy had to come home on Sunday for steak dinner and to help Maise.  I’m trying the technique of a tie-out in the backyard for Maise, but having trouble limiting her.  It is hard to limit one dog and not the other.  As a result, Maise is out in the backyard on Sunday night when everyone is going to bed.  At last, I resort to going out the front door and sneaking around to the back door to close it.  Fortunately, it worked, as there was a thunderstorm that night.

Why Two Cutes?

Isabel (Izzy) and Maise (“Mazey”) are two female Keeshonds (dogs) that share my home.  Izzy has been with me as a puppy since 2000.  Maise happened into my life in 2007.  She was rescued from a Wisconsin puppy mill, where she was a breeder her entire life, until she met Izzy and me.  Izzy is the queen of the house and the neighborhood.  Maise has come a long way since our first winter together.  Her fear of humans prevented her from coming into the house from outside when any person was near.  I spent much of that winter opening the back door, going out the front door and around the house to get behind her, and shoo’ing her into the house through the back door.  Let me tell you, that activity at 2 AM on any Minnesota winter night, is challenging.

While Izzy still isn’t keen on having another entity in HER house, I think she secretly likes having Maise around to taunt and tease.  Maise tolerates this hierarchy and I often see her standing firm and looking at Izzy defiantly, while she quietly allows the queen to rule.

I receive great joy from the Two Cutes, so I dedicate this web log to them.

History of Keeshond breed —
The Keeshond is a very old breed and there is little doubt that the fact it was never intended to hunt, kill animals or attack criminals accounts for its gentleness and devotion. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Keeshonden were used as watchdogs, good-luck companions, and vermin controllers on river boats, farms and barges. They were known as Wolfspitz (Germany), Chiens Loup (France), Lupini (Italy), and Keeshonden (Holland). During the 1700’s, in Holland, Cornelius “Kees” de Gyzelaar, a leader in the Dutch Patriot revolt against the reigning House of Orange, kept one of these dogs as his constant companion. The Keeshond became the symbol of the Patriot Party. This is the basis for the breed name as “Kees’ dog”, which in Dutch would be “Kees hund”. The Patriots’ were defeated, however, and many Keeshonden were destroyed to disavow any connection with the failed rebel party. The only Kees that remained were a few on barges and farms. The breed was not revived until nearly a century later through Baroness van Hardenbroek and Miss J. D. Van der Blom. Throughout the late 1800’s, Keeshonden had appeared in England under the names of “fox-dogs,” “overweight Pomeranians” and “Dutch Barge Dogs.” This British dog was the progeny of the German Wolfspitz crossed with a percentage of Dutch imports. After the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Wingfield Digby and Mrs. Alice Gatacre aroused great interest in England and in 1926 an English breed club was formed with “Keeshond” as the official name. With rare exceptions, the Kees in the United States are derived from British breeding. The first American litter was bred in 1929 by Carl Hinderer of Baltimore, MD. The first Keeshond was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1930 in the Non-Sporting Group. The Keeshond Club of America, as it was later named, was organized in 1935. Mrs. Virginia Ruttkay pioneered Keeshond breeding in the Eastern US, founding her kennel in 1946. Mr. and Mrs. Porter Washington of California purchased their first Keeshond in 1932, providing foundation stock for many successful Western US kennels.