Monday, May 24, 2010

Guard Dog on Duty

I am guarding the remote controls and the pit.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Other Popeye

Popeye here.

Yes, that is a belly band around my head. Don't judge.

So the other night, while the humans were asleep, I was on the computer researching the latest stock exchange prices when I came across Auntie Jen's website. Auntie Jen lives in a galaxy far far away called Alabama and offers pet care services, pooch parties, and puppy weddings. And while I haven't found that special someone who will make an honest dog of me, I did see something else on Auntie Jen's website that I knew Foster Mum would be interested in.

This is Popeye:

Notice the resemblance?

See, he's only got 2 legs like me. Popeye lives at the Rainbow Bridge now, but who'd'a thunk there would be another Popeye the 2-legged dog in the existence of the whole universe?

Foster Mum wrote to Auntie Jen and Auntie Jen was kind enough to reply:

The Popeye I knew lived in Australia. He (or rather his wonderful mummy, Ali) gave me the name Auntie Jen, as I lived with her (and other times in the same neighbourhood as her) for two years and helped her care for him.

My friend Ali is the one who invented Popeye's wheels and his "swimmers." He did hop around her yard like a little squirrel. He was such a sweetheart. However, when we got those wheels on him, he would take off down the road like a bullet--I'd have to remind him of the speed limit!

He had a lot of upper-body strength and would use that strength to pull his back end (attached to the wheels) down the road. From time to time, he would come out of them and we'd have to re-attach them.

When we got to the beach, we'd trade the wheels out for his swimmers. He loved to "run" down the beach, fetch coconuts, and body surf with his dog buddies, so the swimmers helped prevent scrapes to his backside.

His back legs were paralyzed at an early age, and had to be removed, so most of his life (outside of his home) was spent on wheels. He had quite the active social life--and volunteered as a very successful collector for a branch of the RSPCA.

When we'd get back to the house from the beach or other outing, he'd hop around the yard. Ali had some workers smooth out the rocks on her back patio for his comfort. She had lush green grass. And Popeye had his own kiddie pool, with a ramp she built so he could hop up it and into the water to cool off.

Foster Mum has seen several 2-legged dogs online before but never has she seen one move in quite the same way that I do. That means she's also never seen one with quite the same contraptions that I have to help me get around. Until Auntie Jen's Popeye that is.

When I first went to live with her, she tried to convert a little dolly on wheels for me so that I could sit on it and push myself around, much like Auntie Jen's Popeye had in the 2nd picture above. But her mechanical skills are worse than mine and she couldn't get it to work. So it's interesting for her to see another dog with such a similar piece of equipment.

Anyway, it's too bad you need a spaceship to get to Alabama. Otherwise, I'd have Auntie Jen throw me a huge whopping party with all the fixins'--courtesy of Foster Mum of course!

Follow-up email from Auntie Jen:

I cried my eyes out with tears of joy when I got your latest email. I am floored and so honoured. Thank you so much.

That is the single most uplifting and inspiring video I have ever seen. And the music is so perfect, too.

I read the blog, and it made me feel so good in so many ways. The fact that you posted our boys side by side like that, and posted my story about my Popeye with pics...well, it just moved me.

By the way, I have a huge crush on your Popeye. He's just beautiful!

As for the wheels--When my Popeye was in the backyard, he went without wheels. We only used the wheels when he was out collecting for the RSPCA or speeding down the street to get to the beach to hang with his mates. :)

I want to say the platform for the wheels was something like a foot by 3/4 foot and half moon shaped. This was seven years ago, so my memory of it isn't as sharp as it used to be. The length of the platform was just enough for his backside to fit, basically. Underneath the platform were two wheels. And they were the smaller rollerskating wheels--not the big, round ones I remember from childhood. For lack of a better description, I remember them looking like large Lifesaver candies, if that makes sense. :)

As for keeping him in them, that was the trickiest part, at least for me. His mummy designed the skates, but I often took him on outings, so I got a lot of experience with keeping him in the skates.

The straps were basically a set of four velcro straps that we'd criss-cross, coming up from his groin/stomach area and affixing to velcro that crossed over the opposing hip. What I remember being the trickiest thing about it was finding that balance in how snug to make the connection. Too loose and he'd come out; too tight and his movements would put too much pressure on the velcro, and he'd come out. Fortunately, the wheels were low to the ground, and he had supervision during these times, so coming out of them didn't seem to phase him.

We also had some ways that we dealt with the absorption of moisture. Please let me know if that's a concern for you and your Popeye, and I will explain how we helped to prevent that, especially since the material that covered the platform caused him to sweat.

I am so impressed with the wheels you have invented. Boy, can he run! He looks so happy. Looks like he's a beach dog, too. I love that still of him running under the Golden Gate. :)

Thanks again for contacting me and posting what you posted and sharing the video with me. You made far more than just my day. And it's my honour to be able to share anything that might benefit you. Feel free to share any of this with others. Being able to be a friend to animals and the people who love them is what I live for.

Many Thanks,
aka Auntie Jen