Posted by: roamingolivia | June 30, 2010

Guest Blog: Meet Lola (from Kamila)


Here is this week’s Guest Blog (it’s not like I’ll have one every week or in any kind of standardised way, but this is the one from this week) from my friend Kamila, who would like us all to meet her dog. Please contact me if you’d like to be a guest blogger! And now, from Kamila:

Meet Lola. We also call her Lolies, Miss Lolie, Beast (for her sharp teeth and glittering eyes), Beastie, and Beastka (that’s “Beast” with a Czech diminutive ending).

Here she is on the very first evening we got her, February 22, 2010:

She is an absolutely fantastic dog. My brother saw her at the pound, where she tried to sleep while everyone else barked and howled. My husband and I went to see her the next day. She gently licked my hand through the bars of her cage.
Over the 4 months we have had her, we have noticed that Lola enjoys many things in life. Specifically, Lola likes:
  • Her 8-inch rawhide bone from Whole Foods. She stays with it for hours, finally losing interest only when she’s worked it down to a nub she can’t hold between her paws. She starts her mornings with this rawhide, usually when we’re still sleeping.

That’s a cow bone in the top left corner of the picture. She sometimes gnaws on it, but it’s not a chewable texture. I think she isn’t sure how to work something so hard down to a nub. So she licks it, then concentrates her chewing abilities on the rawhide.

  • Her Nylabone. Similar to her rawhide, except it’s made of chewable plastic. This is what it looks like new:

    Lola, however, has worked hers down to a nub, but a rough, textured one she still enjoys gnawing on:

    She likes to crunch on it with her back teeth. She appears to have no difficulty digesting the plastic.

    • Solo fetch. Strangely, Lola hasn’t caught on to fetch when we try to play it with her, but she loves to play solo fetch, particularly with her Nylabone nub. She’ll pick it up and toss it a few feet away, run and pounce on it, then toss it again in another direction and run it down. Sometimes she gets herself so pumped up, she runs top speed around the apartment, from the living room, through the bedroom and bathroom, and back into the living room, before joyously and victoriously pouncing on it again. She once ran from the living room into the bedroom then back about twenty times.
    • Her squeaky ball toy. Lola plays the same game of fetch with her squeaky ball toy as with her Nylabone, except this toy can move and squeak on its own. She believes it is sentient, and likes to hunt it down and bark at it.
    She especially likes to bat at it in the kitchen, where the floor is slippery. The ball is even more animated on the laminate surface, and she struggles to keep her footing, which must add an element of adventure.
    • Supine transfixion pose. She likes to lay on her back, as still as possible, and balance an object in her paws, or hold it in her mouth. For example, she’ll hold the torn fragments of her stuffed goose suspended in the air and hold the pose for a few minutes. It’s like a meditative exercise.
    • Her orange sheet. The orange sheet began as bedding and became a toy. Lola loves to poke her nose around in the folds of fabric, chew things through the material (it has several holes), and wrap herself up in it like a toga. Here you can see her in supine transfixion pose (see above explanation), holding a corner of the orange sheet:
    • Fusing. “Fusing” is what we call Lola’s enjoyment of several objects at once. There are several different combinations. She might lay down on her orange sheet to chew on her rawhide. Or she might tuck the Nylabone under her arm while she mangles the stuffed goose. Or she might do her supine transfixion pose on the sheet with the rawhide in her mouth. When she had old shoes to chew on (before they were confiscated for disturbing her digestive tract), she would lay on one shoe while she chewed the other.
    • Various human limbs. Lola battles us to the death over our arms and hands, which she loves to sink her teeth into. Here she is going in for the kill, and the aftermath:

    She calls upon an arsenal of skilled moves, dodging left and right, crouching down, and pouncing. She reserves her most ferocious battle skills for feet and legs, emitting a low rumbling growl if we try to touch her with a foot or hold her between our knees. She likes to jump, sometimes so high all four feet leave the ground, and she initiates play either by jumping or by biting. When she wants my attention, she nips me on my hip or thigh if I’m sitting, then barks. That means, “I want to fight you.”

    • Birds and squirrels. She sees them as deluxe squeaky ball toys, flying all around her and running up trees. Her daily walks become hunting missions. She crouches down to stalk a blackbird in a parking lot, strategizes how to best approach a lazy pigeon, and dives into bushes after sparrows. She also has a special sound reserved just for squirrels which William calls her “velociraptor squawk,” because it is high-pitched, frantic, and bloodthirsty. Sometimes, she eyes her leash, hanging from a peg by the front door, and barks. Translation: “Let’s go kill the bastards.”

    • Stuffed animals and rope toys. Lola likes stuffed animals and rope toys. Here she is, moments before destroying a rope toy:

    Unfortunately, she obliterates these objects in very little time. She ate several inches of a throw rug in just a few minutes, and massacred a stuffed goose in less than an hour, left to play with what are now mere fragments:

    It is why she got the nickname “Beast.”

    • Kefir. Lola loves kefir. We started giving it to her to aid in her digestive health, after she had to see the vet twice for intestinal infections caused by ingesting shoes, rope, and rugs.
    Generally, she enjoys dairy products. She gets a milk moustache — a bit of foamy white under her lower lip. Sometimes it splatters on her face. Overall, she likes to prewash dishes, whether they once contained dairy or not. She likes to help us finish our morning oatmeal:
    • Underarm rubs. Lola loves to get her underarms scratched. She tucks in her chin, stretches her front legs, spreads her toes, and sometimes even stretches her back legs straight out. It’s how we start the day.
    • Presenting. What we have come to call “presenting” is essentially her offering her rump for petting and scratching. She likes it when you scratch the point right at the beginning of her tail, or pet the fluffy fur she has on the backside of her thighs. If I lay down on the floor, she straddles my head and glances down at me expectantly. If I sit on the ground, she swings one leg over my knee and looks over her shoulder, like, “C’mon, you know what you gotta do.” Sometimes, if she’s standing near me, she’ll back her butt up into me, then look over her shoulder. We thought she might stop presenting after she was spayed, but surgery did not stop this behavior. She does, admittedly, have a lovely rump. It is shiny black, with phantom shades of auburn and soft ridges of fur along her thighs:
    • Her best friend Sierra. Lola has just one friend (besides us, of course), William’s parents’ elderly beagle Sierra. Sierra likes Lola, too, though sometimes she gets snippy and wants to be left alone because she is much older than her friend. Here they are holding hands:

    Lola also likes human visitors. She runs in circles around the UPS man’s feet.

    • The dog park. Lola loves the dog park because she can run free after birds who are brave enough to approach. Otherwise she is anti-social, engaging in play with another dog only if they are of the right size and temperament. If they are too big, she gets scared and attacks; too small, and she pounces on them carelessly as though they were squeaky ball toys. Occasionally she finds a transient connection, another dog her size aggressive enough to withstand her anti-social attempts to jump on his head and straddle him. Then they will wrestle until they are both exhausted. This is rare, unfortunately. Lola usually just pisses people off with her jumping and trampling.
    • Laying under the bed. When she wants alone time, Lola likes to lay under the bed. She thinks if she hides just her head and upper body, we can’t see her, though her butt and tail poke out. She also likes her corner sheet in the bedroom, where she spends most of the night:
    • Her kennel. We think she likes it. She always goes in willingly when we have to leave her home alone. She has a plush cushion plus two sheets, a purple water bowl, and usually a snack. She has two water bowls: one big one next to her food bowl in the kitchen, and a small ceramic purple one in her kennel. Strangely, she favors the little purple one even when she’s not locked up. Anyways, here she is in her “room”:

    The beginnings with Lola were frustrating. She was scared of us, and sometimes growled if we got too close. She also skipped meals. After she tried to bite William, we took her to a behavior specialist at the SPCA. Lola lay under the conference table and refused to budge, gazing forlornly at the cold cuts, sausage, and squeaky toys we offered her. The behavior specialist was concerned. Of the hundreds of dogs she’s seen, she said, she has never dealt with one who refused cold cuts. She recommended we take her to a dog psychologist to determine if she is clinically depressed.

    Instead, I consulted a colleague of mine with experience in rescue work. We implemented two suggestions of his: try different brands of dog food until we find something she likes (Purina Pro Plan: Shredded Chicken Formula); and hold her in our laps, gently muzzling her mouth until she relaxes. Both tactics worked:

    Lola is complex. She is serious and intense, a socially awkward loner, yet, more than food and affection, she likes to play. We have coopted a term to describe her favorite activity: Futzing, most commonly used to refer to a demonstrated lack of productivity or aimlessness, particularly for a young person (e.g. “He’s been futzing around in undergrad for the last five years. I don’t know if he’ll ever graduate.”), has become our lexical go-to in our attempts to put the bulk of our beast’s waking behaviors into words. Neither fully jesting nor serious; neither purely playful nor motivated by violence… somewhere in between such behavioral extremes lies our beast’s tireless futzing. We suspect she was raised by cats, or maybe she’s autistic. It is a serious consideration. She seems to inhabit a world different from ours, a reality where inanimate objects come alive, of sentient squeaky ball toys and animated orange sheets. Her way of relating is indirect: she avoids physical contact, initiating play if she wants to interact, not cuddling. If we want to cuddle, we have to do what we call wrangling. Let my husband demonstrate wrangling:

    She seems so emotionally removed, it’s hard to connect with her sometimes. I get frustrated in those moments, and am still learning to accept her the way she is. Last weekend, we took her to a deluxe dog park, complete with two lakes, trees, and many doggies willing to play. Instead of running and playing, she spent the hour by herself, trotting along the edge of the water, working up the courage to swim. She didn’t spend the time the way I expected her to, but she did finally get in the water. She did swim.

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    1. […] want to follow up on a guest blog I wrote about a year ago. I must warn you, however, that this is no ordinary beast (and that the […]


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