Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Weekend With Benny

This weekend the sudden onset of colder weather brought a dusting of snow. I felt a pull to spend time outdoors, which is easy to do when Benny, the Jack Russell Terror visits. His extreme vigor settles down to mere boundless energy after he has participated in the day's activities - a nice long walk, time spent chasing my not-so-tolerant felines and tearing through the back yard with his girlfriend, Raven.

When Benny arrives for the weekend, his tail wags so hard, you'd think he could propel himself upwards and fly. I'd like to think that his excitement is directed at me - after all it's been at least a week since we've last seen one another. But I know better. Once he's set free, Benny flings himself out of the car and rushes right past me, and over to my neighbour's house. Behind that front door, waits Raven, a little mostly-black Schnoodle (part schnauzer, part poodle), and object of Benny's affection.

Together, the tiny terrors have learned the worst habits from one another.
Raven has introduced Benny to new cuisine opportunities. While he was perfectly happy to ignore such mundane items as bird seed and his own frozen poopsicles, his canine partner-in-crime has shown him the joy of "waste not, want not". Benny, on the other paw, has taught her the art of escaping. No matter how well we cover the gaps between fence and ground, this furry Houdini can worm his way through almost anything. When the two of them are on opposite sides of the fence, Benny will encourage Raven to help him dig under it, and then he'll pull at the base of the chain link with his teeth, bracing his back legs for his one-sided tug-of-war, allowing her to burrow through from the other side. We've since allowed a space for them to go back and forth between the two yards.

As much as he loves her, there are times when Benny is not unhappy to see Raven go home. Those times usually follow a long session of her chomping on his rawhide bone, or settling into a lap which he has already claimed as his own. Once the two of them are apart, Benny is usually ready to take on one of his usual hobbies - bringing us chew toys so that we can wrestle them from his growling vice grip-like jaw, or if in a particularly charming mood, he plays Chase the Cats.

My felines are a work in progress when it comes to Benny. There are times when they can be nose to nose, without incident. There are other occasions when their mere presence triggers Benny's chasing instinct, which is quickly followed by disapproving hisses, spits and growls. I've gently suggested that Frank stop making those noises, for fear the cats will learn from his primitive behaviour, but alas, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Benny is doing a great job of keeping us all pretty active on weekends, since his twice-a-day walks get us out moving, no matter the weather. The small lake in the park across the street has been slightly frozen over throughout the weekend. It's just thick enough to hold the weight of a duck or a small breed of dog, if you don't give into the overwhelming temptation of allowing him to scamper toward where it thins. Benny knows what to do with water (bite the waves, of course), but he was quite uncertain about this new, cold and slippery, solid surface. His first few steps were tentative, before he busied himself by biting at the leaves and twigs buried just below the surface. I suspect that before too long, he'll be flinging himself across its icy cover for a long glide, which is pretty much how it happens when he chases my cats across the linoleum floor.

Occasionally we need to do the unthinkable, and go out for a short while without Benny. The commotion begins when he immediately senses that we're thinking about suggesting that we might want to talk about considering going out without him. Panic ensues. Pathetic cries begin to escape through his nasal passages. He senses doom. Life, as he knows it will be over. He is a dying dog. The cries turn to gut-wrenching screeches. Then forlorn howls. This is all before we have even put on our jackets. The struggle to keep him inside the house while not closing the door on our own hands or feet is near-impossible. If, by the fifth or sixth attempt we have successfully escaped, multi-syllabic squeaks will seep through from inside. If we hesitate before driving off, a quick flash of white tells us that he has taken a running dash at the front door, and leapt up to try and catch a glimpse of us through the frosty window, three feet above the ground.

I suspect he recovers quickly though. Upon our return, he's as calm as a Zen garden, having settled in nicely for a rejuvenating nap. By then he's ready to start the day's events all over again.

Once the day winds down, and all creatures are in their respective homes, Benny is near-lethargic, which for a Jack Russell Terror means that his energy level has dwindled down to that of an average tornado. With a gentle wag of his tail, he'll allow us to settle him in for the night. Like a toddler, he needs to take a toy to bed with him. He'll lie down on his blanket and give our hands a goodnight lick. Once asleep, I'm sure he dreams about Raven, ice gliding and the day when he'll get along well with the cats.

That last one might have been my own dream.

You can read more about Benny and his daily adventures with Frank over at Remaindered Random Musings.

Here are some photos taken from this past weekend. Click on any of them to see a larger image.

Raven comes calling for Benny. She often just appears at the back door, stands on her hind legs and jumps for joy. Here you can see that she's been feasting on bird seed (click photo to enlarge) from the snowy ground below the feeder. One of my nicknames for her is "Velcro."

Skittles is bored with being Benny's plaything.

Benny explores his new slippery world

Earlier last week, Frank went fishing near his place and caught some trout. He's been experimenting with a hot smoker, and this weekend, he brought it over to my place along with the fish. These fillets were just about ready to go into the smoker. Several hours later, they turned out yummy!

The best of both seasons come together. Colourful reds, golds and greens soak up the late-day sun and contrast against the icy water and snow-dusted grass.

I don't know what caused it to grow this way, but this bent tree bows gracefully to every season.

A dead thistle stands tall, watching over the lake.

A branch sits on top of thin ice and creates a shimmery reflection.

An evening walk around the lake to see the icy water glistening in the setting sun

Later, the full moon peeks out from behind a pine tree.

Night has fallen and a street lamp shimmers across the icy lake creating a silhouette of a curious duck.


Anonymous said...

Very nice photos.

I can't figure out how dogs just always KNOW when they are about to be left behind. I think they all have ESP...

Crabby McSlacker said...

Hilarious post, and thanks so much for NOT sharing any pictures of poopsickles!

(Awesome photos, too, as usual!)

Hilary said...

Thanks Susan,

My neighbour tells me that Raven knows when it's Friday - that she runs to the back door looking to see if Benny is here yet. Critters seem to sense what to us, are subtle changes in behaviour, but to them might seem like a flashing light and beeping alarm.


Thanks so much for your kind comment. And I wouldn't think of sharing the poosicles with you, nor would Raven. She always gets to them first!

Tink said...

Velcro! LOL. Ok, it's official. THAT is the cutest nickname ever. I love the pictures of the cat yawning, the thistle, and the lake reflecting the setting sun. You have such a great photographic eye.

Frank Baron said...

As you know, I take great comfort in the fact that other JRT owners have assured me that they tend to settle down in 7-8 years. That would put your cats at around 14 or so, which should work out - by the time they can't outrun him, he's unlikely to chase them.

Possibly. :)

Reb said...

Funny story, dogs and snow & ice are so funny. Great pictures as usual.

Hilary said...

Thank you Tink.

I take that as quite the compliment coming from a shutterbug like you. :)


"Possibly" being the key word. I have my doubts. :)

Thanks Reb,

Much appreciated. :)

photowannabe said...

Wow Hilary that's quite a story and quite a dog that visits you on the weekend. You really have a gift of storytelling. I enjoyed it immensly. Great photos too, especially the branch in the ice. Nice perspective.

Anonymous said...

Our Cali is completely silent when we leave. She follows us to the door and sits mournfully quiet with those sad "take me with you eyes". You can't help but feel guilty as the door shuts. On the other hand, there is no better greeter when we return. I think she would give hugs if she could. Aren't animals wonderful?

That thistle is exquisite!

Hilary said...

Hi Photowannabe,

Thanks very much. I appreciate your kind words. :)

Thanks Gawilli,

I agree... I can't imagine life without animals. :)

Stace said...

Every time I see the photos that you and Frank post, I just want to come and visit! It looks so beautiful. It's probably quite nice where I am too, but I'm used to that so I don't notice! hehe

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady is enthralled with the photos she has seen so far...she will let the rest of them download later!
Love the velcro dog, and of course, Benny is adorable, as always.
The Bag Lady's Princess knows exactly what is going on at all times...and has her scheduling plans, too. As soon as supper is finished, she is 'talking' to the Cowboy, trying to convince him to go to the living room. She expects the Bag Lady to join them as soon as the kitchen is cleaned up, too!
She also seems to know whether we are going out of the house to do chores (in which case she gets to come) or leaving in a vehicle (in which case she lies down with her chin on her paws and looks at us reproachfully). Too smart.

Hilary said...

Hi Stace,

I suspect that if you started snapping some shots of those surroundings, you'd be framing some amazing images yourself. But don't let that stop you from coming for a visit! :)

Hi Bag Lady,

They're incredibly smart/perceptive critters. My cats on the other hand give me their "whatever" look. Unless they're hungry. Then they looooove me!

Steve Buser said...

You pack a lot into your post. The photos are incredible -- they start well and just get better as you go down. Good work.

--steve buser
New Orleans Daily Photo

Wayne said...

What a delightfully entertaining post! And the wave biting vid is awesome! That is some dog. Skittles seems pretty cool too! Thanks for such an engaging post.

Hilary said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks so much for your kind words. You have some wonderful photos yourself on your blog. Friends of my got married in New Orleans this past summer and rave of its charms. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Hi Wayne,

Thank you also for your kind words. Benny is indeed awsome.. and Skitty yannsome.. at least in that pic. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. :)

Amy said...

fantastic picture...but aren't they always?!

Hilary said...

Thanks so much Amy :)

Virginia Lee said...

Hilary, I have added you to my blogroll in order that I remember to come by here more often. I love your worldview and your photos. And as I mentioned before, I adore Benny the dawg. Skittles reminds me of my Sir Toes, who was also very roundheaded and blessed with glorious markings.

Gorgeous work, Hilary. Just lovely.

Hilary said...

Hi Virginia Lee,

Thank you so much for your kind words... they're very much appreciated.

I'll bet your Sir Toes was a beautie, as most cats tend to be.