Phoenix 09 … and more dog! (Plus, furniture!)

OK, a fair amount will be covered in this post. But don't worry, most of it is dog-related.

This past weekend we were off in Phoenix for our annual visit to the Phoenix Comicon. As usual, we traveled with Pete and Paul, but this year were also joined by Jamie. We were not, however, joined by our new comic which was supposed to arrive from the printer; not pointing fingers yet, just trying to figure out what happened.

Anyway, that's Pete, Monica, and Jamie in the photo above. Workin' the table, as they did all weekend. Paul was workin' the easel, doing caricatures. It was another successful outing for us, at least as good as last year — which, in this economy, is good enough. The extra full day on Friday did nothing for us, but didn't really affect our plans, since Monica carved out some time it to make it to IKEA.

The weather seemed to be beautiful, not that we saw any of it. But it was nice in those mornings, not like the sub- or near-freezing it's been here. This trip is always a welcome break; next year, however, it moves to Memorial Day weekend. It'll be a bigger venue, promises to be a different kind of event, and we'll be there — but we're going to miss this late winter outing.

Anyway, enough of that. What's the dog been up to?

The Saturday before, we headed to Teca Tu for GCNM's monthly "adoption clinic." Seems to be one official representative of the group at these events, but several other owners tend to show up, hang out, and visit with the other Greys. It was a tangled, happy furry mess.

Cheyenne, representing.

Wendy just liked leaning; Godiva, everybody's buddy, makes a new friend; Nina! (Click for larger.)

Cheyenne was well behaved, if more than a bit standoffish. She had no problem with the other dogs, she just felt no particular urge to interact with them. She just preferred to take over Godiva's bed and stay there.

Wrapped up and headed home to take delivery of our new table from Jim, custom-made for the fireplace room. Stacy helped with the delivery and got to meet — and be smitten by — Cheyenne; so, when they invited us over to dinner the following night, she was more than willing to include the dog.

Their dog, Brenda Lee, was, like Stacy and Jim, a great host. She wasn't territorial at all and, though Cheyenne was again not the most social, they got along fine.

In fact, they just kind of bonded over watching the food.

The next day, we both had off for the holiday. In preparation for the Phoenix outing, we'd made arrangements for Cheyenne to stay with Kathy, the Santa Fe representative of GCNM (and the one who conducted our interview).

Kathy lives outside of town. With two "failed fosters" of her own, Gandalf and Shu-Shu. And one "unadoptable" Greyhound, Heidi. And another dog. Plus, like, four cats. And then she was going to be sitting for two other Greys that weekend. We had to see how they would all interact. Well enough, it turns out, to be invited back, though she did seem to view the cats as some sort of chew toy.

As it turns out Cheyenne did just fine on her weekend away. The cats were locked away in their room to remove any temptation, and all the dogs worked out their relationships. Cheyenne even got to be good buddies with one of the other visiting dogs, actually playing, we're told, and getting along with the whole pack. Our worry was that she would want to stay there, but she didn't seem to object to coming back home with us.

That Sunday we returned, there was an article in the Journal North about Kathy and the new GCNM project, Greyhome.


Moyen Chien

Well, hello there. It's been almost, what, 20 minutes since there was a post about Cheyenne?

D's posted a a nice essay about her. And there's been plenty of photos recently, of course, though she is kinda tough to get a picture of. Here's one from Monica's photoblog.

(You do know Monica has a photoblog, don't you? Updates are more infrequent these days, but it's worth checking in on periodically).

So, anyway, enough about Monica and her blog. Our dog's figured out the dog door.

One of the conditions of adopting Cheyenne is that we install a dog door. The regular, off-the-shelf one from Home Depot wasn't working with our sliding doors, so we had to get a fancy custom-ordered one that would work with our setup. We were both kind of ambivalent about the dog door — we can see the use, but are kind of dicey about opening up our bedroom to the rest of the world. And our regular visits home at lunch have supported the idea that Cheyenne doesn't actually need to go out during the day.

But we started training her to use it. Per the instruction we found online, we started using treats to bring her into the house through the door. Early on, we had some success, but had failed to tape the door open, so in our excitement, it fell back on her, kind of spooked her. We set up cinder blocks, and then bought more cinder blocks to build up a big step and continued to try and entice her through the door, using the stinkiest freeze-dried liver treats in our arsenal, but I think the whole idea of ducking down the whole time was eluding her. It wasn't until Ange suggested that we use her dog bowl that we had any success getting her through.

To be honest, once the whole work and real world thing reared its ugly head again, her training kind of dropped off. But we were getting some regular success getting her through the open door with a few bits of (audible) kibble in the bowl.

But then I put out the Forbidden Yard Bread. Sure, I could've thought this through better. But we had all sorts of odd leftover bits of bread and such from the holidays, and in last weekend's big cleanout, I decided to toss them into the yard for the birds (and other critters). In my defense, it's still cold and mostly frozen out in our yard, so it's not like Cheyenne's ventured out much. She discovered it all soon enough.

Last night, Monica discovered that the lure of the Forbidden Yard Bread was strong, even after a few days. Today, at lunch … she decided it use that. Not only was it enough to get Cheyenne outside (something we'd not really tried, what with there being no real attraction to being outside this time of year) — she eventually pushed the dog door open to go outside. ZOMG, in one feel swoop she skipped ahead in the lesson plan.

Tonight, we tried it again a few times. Luring her out and back in a few times. Seems she's mostly overcome her fear of the door, now it's just a question of her figuring out how to use it.


Train Ride

Took the New Mexico Rail Runner today to the 7000 BC meeting in Albuquerque. Since we didn't want to leave the dog (see, she now manages to creep into all the posts) alone too long, it meant that we took the 1:20 out of Santa Fe, got into Albuquerque at 2:49, and then turned around to get the 4:30 home. So the day was more about the train ride than the actual meeting, as we'd be spending about three times as much time in transit as at our destination. Jamie joined us on the trip.

Train's free for the first three months for Santa Fe residents (as is the case with any new stop that's opened), so that took some of the sting out of it. But mostly, it was getting into the mindset that the day was about just riding the train, visiting with a friend.

We were among the crowds, in a good spot, when boarding began at 1:00. Managed to get space on the upper level, two pairs of chairs facing each other, one of which we gave to a woman, recently moved to Santa Fe, at the next stop, because it filled up pretty quickly. Departure from the Depot on time, a surprisingly fast trip through town, then out to the edge of the mesa, and down to Albuquerque.

We talked some comics and "business," but most of our discussion today was about traveling by train. Observing and commenting on the landscape — built and natural — that passed by through areas we wouldn't ordinarily see, at least not from the height we did in the location we did. Residential areas, less desirable because of the rail right-of-way. An extended copse of cottonwood trees that looked like an orchard. Neglected industrial districts, active once (and now maybe again) because of the proximity of the train. The river and acequias, set back from the major thoroughfares. Watching as today's snow in Santa Fe gave faded away to shrubbery, unusually green from earlier snowfall at lower altitudes

The trip passed quickly, the meeting in Albuquerque even more so. The trip back was far less crowded. And though there was shop talk, conversation always seemed to come back to our mode of transportation. It was sunset, and we watched as the sky darkened and the full moon came out. Before we knew it, we were back home.

(Click for larger; that's moonrise on the right.)

Undeniably, there was a lot of novelty that made it more appealing, as did the price. Tough to deny, though, that there is a different quality about making the trip in a train, even if it did take probably a half-hour longer than the drive. Definitely more conversation, more relaxed, more conscious of — and appreciative of — the journey.


Dog Blog!

OK, then, let's give up the pretense that — at least for the foreseeable future — this blog is going to be about anything but the dog.*

D made Cheyenne the subject of a haiku over on his site, republished below, with photo by M.

Rejected racer —
Second once, not good enough —
Has her first real place.

* Though we'll hopefully be taking a trip on the Rail Runner this Saturday and will have something to say about that.


thank you Liz + Hans!!!

Friends (and former neighbors) of my parents have an older dog (Beatnik) who doesn't play with his toys as much as he used to. So Liz + Hans packed up a bunch of them + sent them to us for Cheyenne. They arrived today. We plan to keep them in reserve, so that we'll be able to "treat" her with new toys when we need to keep her occupied.

So this afternoon she got (and de-squeaked) the chipmunk:

And tonight we broke out the 2-headed-rattle-and-squeak-purple-and-yellow-leopardskin snake, 'cause it was pretty dang hilarious:

Yeah yeah, I know, at this rate there won't be any in reserve!


nap-y new year!

[click for larger]

Here's hoping 2009 brings everybody many naps in the sun.