Archive for the ‘Hades’ Category

I’d love to support the notion that all dogs are created equal. Puppies are all cute, of course, and cuddly and playful and just – oh! so lovely! And to some people I guess it is the same with babies. And so the saying goes that to begin with, we’re all the same, with all the same potential for fun, love, joy, sadness, hate and evil.

Well. I’m not so sure. Was Ted Bundy a sweet baby? How about Stalin, Mao, Hitler, fat, little Kim Jong-Un, Margaret Thatcher, Putin? Were they cute, cuddly babies? If so – at what point did they change and start showing their true colours?

I know I started with dogs and moved on to versions of tyrants here. It just struck me today when I witnessed a really bad dog-attack in a dog park here in Vienna. I am extremely fortunate to live in a city that is almost custom made for the co-existence of humans and dogs, a place where you can take your beloved pooch to restaurants and pubs, where there are designated, fenced areas provided for people to let their dogs run around free, play and socialise. A city that even has entire forests and wetlands dedicated to dogs and their people. And just because of that wonderful appreciation of dogs, I can never leave this place. I was meant to live her, in the most dog-loving city in the world.

All those who know me would probably agree that I have a set of far softer spots for dogs than I have for people, and that I am willing to let my own dogs almost get away with murder just because they’ve got me so completely twisted around their little paws. I know Thomas thinks I’m way too soft. He keeps telling me “he’s a dog!” about whatever dog I’m busy spoiling at the moment, as if I didn’t already demonstrate just how aware of that I am in my efforts to make my wee munchkin the most happy pooch in the entire world. And why shouldn’t I? What dog, as us city dwellers know them, was ever given a choice of where and how to live? With any luck they will have a good life with people who love them, but that is definitely not a given.

Let me see if I’ve managed to get back to where I started. Tabula rasa and the dog. Well, being who I am, I – by principle – support the notion that basically dogs are cuddly and sweet and blahblah. Right? And then some dick-head comes and ruins it all by taking an entire BREED and throwing it into the fighting pit, and TADA! we have an aggressive breed with aggressive owners and lots of draconian laws are passed punishing dogs and owners en masse, people who would never DREAM of forcing their dogs to fight and dogs who are equally clueless about the use of their shiny whites. And I sit there and get angry with the cowardly tossers who do such a thing to sweet, cuddly dogs who only want to be loved and – and – you can see where this is heading, right?

All dogs are created equal.

It’s just that. Some dogs are created a little more equal than others. And since the implementation of various restrictive laws because of young men owning dogs of a particular kind because they count as “cool” and powerful and aggressive and great guard dogs, I have been the number one advocate for the re-education of people on the origins of the American Staffordshire and Pit Bulls and all those related breeds who have been forced – totally against their real nature! – to be aggressive and partake in illegal fights and whatever. I would so like to believe that those powerful breeds are nothing but chubby teddy bears. That small dogs are only yappy because of their yappy owners. That Labradors are sweet because their owners are sweet.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderfully sweet and quiet dog for the past six years, Mischa – a mix of Husky, Alsatian, Labrador and possibly something else. There is not an evil bone in his body. So imagine my shock at getting Hades and Pluto, two Chinese Crested who YAP! And sometimes snap at strangers, completely without warning and for no apparent reason. Mischa was already the perfect dog when I got him as an 8-year-old dog. Now I actually have to raise two dogs, get them to BECOME the kinds of dogs I like – because they are not naturally born teddy-bears… Admittedly, Pluto is close, but Hades still has a little to learn from Mischa in that department. And they both yap. Pluto at any and every noise outside the flat, Hades  – just because.

Want to hear about the dog attack?

I had taken Mischa, Hades and Pluto to the doggie playground in Volksgarten, just off Heldenplatz. Already there were a variety of dogs, including a majestic looking tall, slim curly coated dog and an American Staffordshire. The Staff came over to greet me, Mischa and the little ones. He was incredibly powerful, all muscle, but seemed friendly enough. But then something invisible took place between the curly coated dog and the Staff and everything turned ugly. Really, really ugly. When the curly dog’s owner tired to intervene, the Staff took no notice. His jaws locked around curly’s right front leg and he started to twist. The screams of pain from the curly dog were chilling, and at this point the Staff’s owner ran in and grabbed the dog – but to no avail. He punched him to get him to let go, but no. I was just waiting for bones to snap when the Staff finally let go and instead attacked curly’s owner. The Staff’s owner finally got him to stop and calmed him down – red mist seemed to dissolve from the dog’s eyes and he was all docile again. The curly dog limped away in shock and I called him to me, calming him and comforting him. His owner was down with ugly bites to his leg.

I think the rest of us were collectively expecting the owner of the Staff to leg it with his dog. But we were happily proven wrong in our assumption about Staff-owners. He first called emergency services while holding the dog firmly. Then he put a muzzle on him and tied him to a post and attended to the other dog owner’s wounds together with a couple of other people, while I continued to reassure the wounded dog. The Staffordshire-owner’s hands were shaking. He was totally devastated and told me he was shocked, deeply shocked, and now also afraid of the dog.

An ambulance arrived, police arrived, and as things were dealt with and I collected my three (who had all behaved impeccably throughout!) and left, I turned to look at the Staffordshire who looked back at me – and I thought I was looking into the eyes of a dog with only a few more hours to live. A dog that could descend into red mist at the drop of a hat – a loaded gun. Is that what certain breeds are after all?

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Here’s Hades after the castration. The message was that he was not allowed to lick the wound, play with other dogs, should take it easy over the weekend… Total failure on all parts. We tried the collar to stop him licking. Well, it stopped him licking, but also stopped him moving like a normal dog. He was completely flummoxed by the collar. So we only made him wear it for a couple of hours, in which time his misery plunged to such depths the floor could barely take the weight of it. So as much fun as it was to film his new pattern of movement, our soft middles decided to “keep an eye on him” instead. The not playing with other dogs part was the next instruction to be breached. Within hours the two little lunatics were turning the flat into a danger zone in their usual style.

Luckily, it seems to have made little difference to the healing of the tiny wound. All one can now see of the op is the empty sack – and I must admit I am a little puzzled as to why the vet left the sack. As some sort of vengeance? “You shall be carrying an inside-out pocket between your legs for all eternity as a reminder of what you have lost!” Thomas suggested we could get it filled with replacement balls to boost his self confidence should he ever need it. My reaction was, as usual, to remind him that Hades is a dog, not a human, and that balls don’t carry the same symbolic meaning to them.

Thomas did not fill mama’s glass with wine after that comment.

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Pluto was added to the household at the beginning of June. The situation was as follows: Mischa “the Rock” Gundersveen bored Hades to distraction, his younger brother from the second litter had been rehomed unsuccessfully and been returned with the message that he had howled non-stop for 18 hours. Something which was too much for the new owner with her 40 years of experience with dogs. Well, we can’t boast the same, but we took Pluto in on trial and it took the wee chap all of a couple of days to settle in, without the use of howling, and – HERE HE IS!

Hades is no longer bored shitless, Mischa is a lot happier as Hades has all but stopped biting his ears (and he seems to like Pluto), and the little one has completely melted Thomas’ heart – they are just SO CUTE!

However, Hades is going through a period of re-adjustment. Not being entirely sure of his position as one of three dogs, he started attacking anything and anyone who came within three feet of me. This included the staff at restaurants, and as this leads to mama not getting her wine he was castrated last week. Yes, Hades lost his balls to mama’s wine. This is known as PRIORITIES. This one was a no-brainer.

We’re still struggling with Hades’ deafness. I’m hopeful that once his hormone levels level out (pun totally intended) he will calm down enough to be a little more trainable. At the moment we are working on how to walk on the lead, that is, without pulling to the front and left, almost lying flat on the pavement scrabbling with his claws to get THERE where there might be other dogs he can play with – or attack – whichever comes first.

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Hades’ screaming has been worse than ever lately. Today he topped himself. He screamed and howled at the neighbours, at the bin collectors, at everybody on the street, screamed his way around the park – and then managed to make it EVEN WORSE when he saw a dog, not just across the road but across two roads – about 200 metres ahead of us. He did his best to fling himself into the road in order to catch up with the unidentified dog. I should have let him. Perhaps he would have been run over by a lorry. When a girl with a timid little Dachshund came around the corner she nearly collected the little dog in her arms for protection and ran – only when she realised it was “just” Hades did she relax, and Hades flung himself at the poor wee thing, ears as rigid as flagpoles, eyes crazily open, whimpering and snorting as if his short term survival depended on this greeting.

As soon as we carried on, though, he went back to screaming, howling and barking because he had not managed to catch up with THAT OTHER dog. And as we waited on a green light he had yet another meltdown, screaming down an area the equivalent of Texas, causing all sensible people in the vicinity to send me angry looks of “why are you torturing the poor thing” to “get your fucking dog to shut the fuck up” as we walked the pedestrian crossing of shame. All because of this small poodle at the tram stop.

He kept up the hysterical screams ALL THE WAY HOME, THROUGH THE BUILDING, ACROSS THE INNER YARD, UP THE STAIRS AND ALL THE WAY TO THE BATHTUB. Oddly, he shut up while I showered off the pee he had peed all over himself in the course of this delightful walk.

Speaking of pee: Yesterday he managed to pee on two completely innocent and unsuspecting women in the dog zone. Sniffing around dogs and their owners, he suddenly cocked his leg and shot, as fast as Billy the Kid. And he did not just grace them with a little drizzle – he friggin’ drowned their legs and shoes. My apology that the dog is deaf seemed really lame at that point.

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Hades is a teenager. It all happened so suddenly. He went from having soft baby-skin to having acne, black heads and pimples down his back. And we’ve been reading about Chinese Crested and skin care and tried baby shampoo and baby lotion and baby this and baby that, to no avail. To add to his teenage misery, his newly discovered need to mark – forcing him to lift one of his rear legs while peeing, a behaviour evolved through millennia of fine selection of the alpha male as a way to demonstrate alpha-ness – has him peeing on his right front paw more often than not, his aim being somewhat questionable. Sometimes we are unable to wipe the pee off immediately giving it time to dry on his skin, and this has caused a sore on the inside of his left front leg.

Revolting, really.

Well, we have finally found a treatment for it all. Or rather, several treatments. For his acne, we now clean his skin with my face cleanser (for sensitive skin, hereby passed on to Hades), followed by a gentle wash with a Camomile solution to calm his skin and help prevent further inflammation. We clean his tummy and legs after each walk, and finish with a light application of a skin cream on the sore – either Carbamide cream he was prescribed by the vet when his mum washed him too much and caused a rash, or zinc ointment for nappy rash. Then we have a drawn out battle trying to stop him from licking the cream off. I try to stop him, he growls and snaps – he stops short of biting, but for such a wee thing he manages to sound pretty vicious. He finds it really irritating that I interfere. And I find his enraged growling really funny.

I now understand why my sister couldn’t stop teasing me when we were kids.

The resulting smell of this new skin-care regime is of a cheap prostitute who spends her days in the nearest compost bin. I think I will have to find a cleanser without perfume – what to do with the odour of Camomile, however, I don’t know. The smell is what puts me off drinking it as tea (that, and that it’s just not proper TEA in the British sense – it may remove pimples from the rumps of small hairless dogs, but it won’t put hair in a builder’s crack – if you know what I mean).

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Saturday afternoon. After a round of frantic shopping – actually, it’s the least frantic round of shopping we’ve done in a while. Since we got Hades, he’s come along on every shopping trip because leaving him at home had him howling FOR THE DURATION, upsetting our neighbours, and could have resulted in them calling the police to find out who was being tortured.

So he has come along in a travel bag in which we could “lock” him so we could also take him with us into the supermarket without comment. (Of course he’s not locked in – he’s zipped in. Same difference, as far as he’s concerned.)

Last week we decided that enough is enough. The dog spent the duration of our supermarket visit whimpering and barking protest at not being allowed to sit in the middle of the trolley sampling the foods as they were added and greeting children as they passed by. Hades loves kids. He is pretty much addicted to them and will scuttle up to any unsuspecting child, wagging his entire body while whimpering with excitement. Gawd save the child that is afraid of dogs. This dog will not care but insist on over-excited greetings accompanied by face-licks.

Anyway – the decision was made to not include him in our shopping trips, hoping that he would not howl his head off (see aforementioned scenario) or poop down the flat. That is the part I’ve not had the energy to write about as all our spare time seemed to go into cleaning up pee and poop left in the most imaginary places. I tried to console myself that he was just helping us get the floors clean – everywhere.

Back to bliss. After a round of not-all-that-frantic shopping (Obi, IKEA, Fressnapf, SportsExperts, EuroSpar, Billa – oh, and Conrad – I fell asleep in the car on the way home) I made a huge pot of tea, curled up on my grandmother’s sofa (made in Odense, Denmark) with Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, and was promptly accompanied by the puppy. Ahhh! Charlie Brown – there really is nothing better than a warm puppy, a good book and grandma’s sofa on a Saturday in January.



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A while ago we got a puppy. And my intention was to write lots about him. And his relationship with our old dog Mischa. And then I ran out of energy and had to ration my activities to a minimum generally centred around getting out of bed, doing my job, cleaning the kitchen and learning what it is like to have a deaf dog. That last point should of course have been the first.

I’ll just give a brief summary of 2013: better than 2012. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Since Hades entered out lives, a lot of our time has centred around him. We’ve had to come to terms with what it is to have a puppy with all it entails in teaching him good manners. We’re not there yet, and our greatest excuse for that is that he is deaf. So we rely on having his attention before we can signal what we want from him, and that has to be explained in some way through a lot of repetition. “A lot” is in this case one of those famous understatements. Getting the attention of a puppy is hard enough, as anyone whose ever had one can confirm, when that puppy is also deaf you may wonder how on earth one gets to the point where one can teach him to sit and lie down on command. Or even how to give that command.

I’m glad to say that Hades is intelligent. I’m less glad to say he is also stubborn. I even sometimes wonder if he is actually aware that he has a handicap and is exploiting it a little – sort of in a “lalala! can’t hear you!” kind of way.

His deafness has its funny sides. When he keeps his attention on us while we’re walking somewhere, he has a tendency to walk into whatever is in the way. And we have no way of warning him. I guess to him we are just pulling funny faces and he keeps an eye on us so he can have a quiet giggle at our expense. Good thing he is so small and light he just bounces right off. It mostly happens in the house where he has walked into countless cupboards and walls – outside I keep him on the lead and can stop him before disaster strikes. Thomas is braver than me and lets him off the lead when we’re in the park, and there both trees, benches, other dogs and people have got in his way and been bumped into.

It is also possible to sneak up on him, but that is of course not fair. Good he’s not of a nervous disposition. Mischa does not understand that he is deaf and has a couple of times scared the crap out of him by playfully placing a big, heavy paw on him from behind, with the result that Hades screams like a tortured pig. Mischa, not the daintiest of movers, does not understand Hades’ surprise and looks truly dejected. He still wonders why on earth we took the foundling in and ruined his life.

In addition to being deaf, Hades is also naked. It kind of goes with the breed, though his sister, Paris, is of the powder-puff type with hair all over. Speaking of Paris – we looked after her for a couple of weeks, and that was when I discovered how much easier it is to teach a hearing puppy new tricks. It took me no more than 15 minutes to teach her sit, and 20 to teach her to lie down, and then another ten minutes to reinforce the difference. If your dog can hear but can’t sit or lie down on command I hereby declare you an incompetent dog owner. Case closed.

Back to nudity.

Hades sleeps in our bed. There are two reasons for this. Firstly his deafness. Having him near means he can follow what is going on – he knows when we get up and where we are without us having to turn the light on. It makes him feel safer. Secondly, he can crawl under the covers if he gets cold.

We thought this was a great idea. But as we keep the bedroom relatively cool, he gets cold, demands a space under the covers, gets too hot within a couple of minutes and wants out again. Our nights are punctuated by his constant under-the-covers-over-the-covers-under… I now know I would not make a good mum. Sleep deprivation is hell. His nightly nomadic movements mixed with his toilet training (he still demands to be taken out for a pee-errand in the middle of the night, preceded by sad and pathetic whimpering that cuts through all other noises in the whole world) has completed our joint exhaustion and we’ve both been on the verge of throwing him out the window. (That is of course not true, do not post nasty comments. The thought has only manifest itself in unheard threats.)

Hades is now six months old and largely house-trained, can sit and lie down on command and walks well on the lead. Now we only have to get him to understand that when we get to the park, it is not generally acceptable behaviour to bark and scream as if someone is twisting your head off, followed by loud and persistent HOWLING. I’ve no idea why he does it. None at all.


Hades pictured on 6 January 2014. What a waste of a pair of ears!

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