Angel Jake at the RBC (Rainbow Broadcasting Corporation)

Angel Jake at the RBC (Rainbow Broadcasting Corporation)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wherever you are, whoever you are... LET'S CHERISH THIS MOMENT!!!!

We are experiencing this amazing day with tears of joy, a sense of relief, a feeling of optimism. We keep pinching ourselves that this is really happening, and we are so happy to be alive to experience it!!!

May our new President be safe. May the world be a safer place because of his administration.

Jake, Just Harry, Mom, and Dogdad

Friday, January 9, 2009

Post-trip Reflections from Our Secretary (OK, Our Mom)

We've loved reading all your comments about Jake's travelogue. Jakey, the Professor, is a very insightful dog, so I respect his interpretations. Were Just Harry to have written about the journey, I suspect it would have been a bit different. But now, it's my turn.

First off, I learned a lot about our two boyz from traveling with them. One happy surprise was how very well behaved they were. Our fears of their barking in the middle of the night at unfamiliar noises in motels never materialized. Strangely, while at home they wander all over the bedroom during the night, sleeping in each other's beds, on the floor, on the rocking chair by the bed, anywhere they please. Throughout the trip, however, even the whole week upstairs at Jack's Mom's townhouse, they each stayed in their own bed throughout the night. With barely a bark or even a slight growl.

The biggest surprise, however, was that Just Harry, who we typically call "the nervous one," never got upset at anything. We have straps for the boyz that link to their harnesses and to the seatbelt in the back seat of the car, and we had placed their beds next to each other on the back seat to make it more comfortable for them. Just Harry immediately curled up and went to sleep. He stayed asleep for most of the travel time every day -- popping his head up every once in a while to see what was going on.

Jakey, on the other paw, never stayed in the back seat. He's always liked standing on the console -- which he could even with the strap. And he's always panted a bit from excitement. But on the trip, his panting became excessive, even frightening, and the only way I could control it was having him on my lap with his head down, so he could snooze a bit. Every so often, he'd want to stand up and see what was happening, and he'd start to pant again.

We tried a bit of dramamine on one day, at Patience's suggestion. And we tried 25 mg of Benedryl another day. Neither had the desired result, although he did sleep a bit longer with the Benedryl. I've read a lot now about calming medication for dogs with valerian root and camomile, and I wonder if anyone has tried them. We're assuming, since it's not the motion that gets to Jake, as he is OK with his head down, that when he looks out, his brain is overwhelmed with all the stimuli of the passing cars, landscape, etc., creating anxiety. Any thoughts?

Then there were the bowl scenarios. Again, Mr. Allegedly the Nervous One, couldn't wait to eat, regardless of where I put his bowl. The Professor, however, was much fussier. "Why isn't my bowl where it always is?" he kept asking. "I recognize that it's my bowl, but I'm not sure what to do with it." The first morning, after he snubbed the food in his bowl in the corner on the floor where I had put it, I had to trick him into eating, first by moving the bowl to the desk. As he likes to jump on chairs, he jumped up, sniffed the bowl, and lookd at me rather quizzically. Then I put the bowl on the chair, and he stood on his hind legs to eat. Finally. As the trip wore on he got more used to eating in new corners -- but often I had to sit with him to reassure him that all was OK.

Interesting difference between our two guys!! Very unexpected.

When we were in St. Louis, we made a few choices as to how much excitement -- big people, little people, little dogs (two tiny aging chihuahuas at one of Jack's brother's that we were afraid would look too much like lunch) -- we would expose them too. But generally, other than Jakey's wrapping his paws around one of our nephews and humping him for all he was worth, and Just Harry's jumping on the laps of anyone who looked inviting -- we were fine. (I've chosen to ignore Jake's low crawl into the whippet room....) And we had lots of fun observing their antics and watching their reactions to new people and places.

Would we do it again? As Jack says, perhaps not such a long trip tomorrow. But having the barkies with us rather than missing them over the holidays, as we've done in the past, was definitely a delight. And we will do it again -- hopefully when it is not below freezing!!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Note: The Last Episode of Our Trip is below the Camel Post

Somehow that elegant -- but apparently pushy -- camel nosed his way under the proverbial tent -- so if you're looking for the Grand Finale of our trip, please see below.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Before We Report on the Grand Finale of Our Trip...

Here are a few up close and personal photos of the Christmas/anniversary camel, now that he has joined his fellows at home.

He isn''t as furry and lovable as we are, and he doesn't give kisses or licks or sniffs -- but he doesn't steal my toys or treats either, like someone I know does -- so I guess he's OK.

Jake and Just Harry's Most Excellent Christmas Road Trip: Days Twelve through Fifteen - the Grand Finale

After Christmas, we just kind of hung around for two more days with the folks. The highlight for us dogs, however, was raking leaves with Dogdad. We don't usually have any leaves in our place -- except for those that arrived with tons of other debris after Hurricane Wilma -- so this was a real treat. JH especially had a ball. He thought the rake was like the broom that he tries to bite at home -- so he and Dogdad had a good tussle. Mom was inside, so we have no photos. And we think Dogdad didn't really want her to know what we were up to lest she worry about our getting dirty. Hmmm. Rain, cold -- that's OK. But dirty? Good heavens.

But then, on Day Twelve, we were off: destination Whippet Land.

To get there, we had to go over several beautiful bridges and cross two major rivers. The first was a bridge over the Mississippi River. And suddenly we were in Illinois and crossing another bridge over the Ohio River.
I spotted barges on the river, and knew Mom would get all excited seeing them.

On the way to Whippet Land, we passed through the Historic Downtown of Cairo. Hmm. Egypt? Nope, Illinois. Mom was disappointed not to see any camels, but oh well, she has enough already.
And then we were in Kentucky. Dogdad had made arrangements with a college friend -- another one -- who was returning to St. Louis from a trip to Jacksonville to meet in Paducah around noon. And we actually timed our meeting perfectly.

While Dogdad and Mom schmoozed with their friends, Just Harry and I got to know their dog, Pepper. Their friends foster dogs in St. Louis, and Pepper is one of their fosters -- but they've grown so fond of him, he may have found his forever home.Of course JH had to let everyone know we had arrived. Before heading over to see the whippets, we freshened up in our hotel room -- this time a Drury Inn, which also is pet friendly and was very comfortable.Paducah is a lovely port city on the Ohio. According to the whippets' servants, it is still a very active port. We drove down to see the river, and found a series of beautiful murals depicting the history of the town.And then, drumroll please, we headed over to meet those celebrated "breedists," the whippet waggle. The sun was just setting, and the whippets' servant asked for a few moments to put them up so they would not be too appalled by the sudden arrival of two hairy dogs. (We strongly recommend that you visit the whippets' blog to read their interpretation of events.)

Yes, there was a loud uproar from the hounds. And yes, we were warmly welcomed by the servants. Words cannot describe what a good feeling it was to be in the real presence of such good virtual friends. As in Mayemphis, we felt right at home, with hugs all around. (Thank you DWB!!!)

Although the whippets' servant was concerned about face-to-face encounters, we did get to have a face-to-face (and an attempted more intimate moment) with Very Old Dog and, briefly with Swede William (who received Teka's message from JH). They are such beautiful , elegant creatures -- we had to forgive their breedism.
You see that red gate? Well I thought it would be interesting to explore what was behind it -- and before the humans knew it, I had done a low crawl under the gate into the whippet room. Unfortunately, my exploration was derailed before I could say hello to each whippet, thanks to a LOUD uproar from the inhabitants. Soon another gate was propped up in front of the red gate, and my explorations were over.

That didn't seem to bother the humans, as they enjoyed good conversation, a tour of the male servant's art studio and gallery (spectacular!!!), and a luscious pasta dinner. And oh yes, since it was Mom and Dogdad's eighth wedding anniversary (thus the camel), they brought a bottle of chanpagne to celebrate with the servants. The time flew by, and as in Mayemphis, it was sad to leave. But Mom gave Very Old Dog a few kisses, hugged our kind hosts, and off we went with promises of another visit.

Day Thirteen? Next stop? Who knew? We were in Paris -- Paris, Tennessee -- a surprise Dogdad had planned for Mom, knowing how much she loved the real city.

We had a few moments as "urban dogs" -- thinking of our urbanista pal, Asta, as we strolled through the main square of the city.

While Mom looked for souvenirs in this Paris on the Square shop, we sat on a bench outside with Dogdad. And once again, passersby told us how "pretty" we were. We may have to get signs that say, hey folks, we're boys. We're not pretty!!!

Then Dogdad told Mom to close her eyes as he had a real surprise for her. Imagine how shocked she was to see -- the Eiffel Tower!!! It was apparently built by engineering students as a school project and donated to the logical place -- Paris. It's a bit out of the center city, in a park, so we're not sure how many people visit it. But it was a kick for Mom. Then off we were again to continue our journey homeward. One more night at a hotel -- this time a Hampton Inn -- in Alabama and one more Sonic.

On Day Fourteen, as we passed through Georgia, we found the temps growing warmer and suddenly, the world was green again. And we saw lots of cotton fields. We had hoped to stop by Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter's home -- but we missed the turn and had to settle for cotton instead of peanuts.
When we saw the Welcome to Florida sign, we had mixed feelings. We were on home turf, -- back in Gator Land -- but that meant our most excellent road trip was nearing the end. Still, Mom and Dogdad had one more surprise for us -- a stay at the beautiful bed and breakfast in Gainesville, where I had actually stayed before -- in August 2004. It's called The Magnolia Plantation and is run by a friendly couple who love animals. They have a beautiful rough collie named Lacie, whom I had met on my previous visit.

In addition to the main house, a restored mansion, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays, they have cottages; we stayed in one of them, Beth's cottage, which which was nice and private.

Before we left for dinner, we had some wine and cheese on the main porch.

Gainesville is a college town -- and very friendly to animals. As I did the last time I was there, we were able to eat outside on the patio of an excellent Italian restaurant, Amelia's. Linguine with white clam sauce, lobster ravioli, cannoli, wine...

After such a delicious dinner and a walk back to the inn, we all slept very well -- but then Day Fifteen dawned and, after a yummy breakfast outside, we were heading for home and the end of our great road trip.

This photo of JH in the car on the way home says it all. Except to find an answer to the question we had asked in early December: Are our folks certifiably insane? What do you all think????