Andre · Life

Andre the mouser

Guess what?  I found another mouse today.  Or rather, it found me.  I was in the living room vacuuming and he came running from under a chair, saw me and ran back.  He kept circling this way as I yelled for Andre.  Andre came running and the chase was on.

Andre chased him constantly, sometimes grabbing him and then dropping him.  But he never lost the scent.  When he had him, I tried to coax him to the back door to take him out, but I think he was having too much fun.  I think all dogs need a job to do.  Usually Andre’s job is keeping me warm at night, barking at other dogs when we are on a walk and occasionally chasing a cat or squirrel out of the yard.  He is always so proud of himself when he does his job.  I can now add mouser to his job description.

The mouse ran under the curio cabinet and Andre couldn’t get to him.  But he kept circling and waiting.  Finally the mouse ventured out and Andre got him again.  My coaxing to the back door didn’t work.  Andre dropped the mouse, who by now was tired and probably injured.  I put on a work glove and grabbed him and threw him out in the back yard.  But Andre wouldn’t give up.  He insisted on going out and looking for him.  Luckily for me he didn’t find him; I really didn’t want him to eat him – YUK!

So after much praise and a treat, Andre is now nestled on my lap while I write this story.  Who says poodles are foo-foo dogs!!

Andre · Life

Brain Freeze?

For the last 3 nights Andre and I have been having ice cream in the evenings.  I make a small bowl for myself and give him a scoop in a small bowl.  At first he licked at it and looked at me like he wasn’t sure of it.  The next night he was more excited.  Tonight when I said, “who wants ice cream” his ears perked up.  In the kitchen I gave him his scoop first and he grabbed the whole thing and chewed it down.  Now, of course, he is begging for mine.  But I’m not sharing!!

Andre · Life

Lamb Chop

I went grocery shopping one Saturday and since I needed to get doggy treats, I stopped to look at the doggy toys.  I found a nice-sized plush Lamb Chop.  I grew up with Lamb Chop and have always loved her so I couldn’t resist buying it.  I figured if Andre didn’t want her, I’d keep her for myself.  Andre always watches as I unpack the groceries just in case I have something for him.  I took out Lamb Chop and handed her to him and to my surprise, he grabbed her and trotted off to the great room, just like a child would have.

New Lamb Chop
Andre and Lamb Chop

He played with her off and on all weekend, he mostly likes to play tug-of-war with me.  Well, that Monday morning before going to work I had to stitch up a seam in one of Lamb Chop’s legs.  Yes, already.

It’s been a week now and Lamb Chop has become an amputee.  Since the thread didn’t hold up and she lost her leg, I decided to use duct tape to patch her up.  Andre doesn’t like the feel/taste of the duct tape, but that doesn’t keep him from playing with her.

Amputee Lamb Chop

Well, three weeks later I had to toss Lamb Chop out.  Andre was pulling all her stuffing out – it was everywhere.  I’m trying to decide if I want to go get another one just for me.

Andre · Life

A visitor

When Andre and I returned from our walk this morning, I stopped in the driveway to watch two squirrels fussing at each other.  They were in two different trees and one was obviously telling the other to stay away.  We were inside just a few minutes when I heard a thump on the roof, as one squirrel used it to get down from his tree.  Shortly he appeared on the deck and came right up to the patio door and peered in.

Now, since (a) Andre’s crate sits in front of the patio door and I usually leave the blinds up enough for him to look out during the day and (b) I don’t feed the squirrels, I can only assume that the squirrel came to visit Andre.  Probably to make him go crazy barking and provide some entertainment.

As I am typing this entry, I heard another thumb on the roof and Andre perked up from his chair in front of the window.  I looked out to see four squirrels chasing each other in the front yard.  They are obviously enjoying the unusually warm weather.  They are also running all around my roof – man, I hope they don’t destroy my new shingles.

Andre · Camping · Horses · Life · Mel · Trail riding

Tippecanoe and Andre too

Original item written on 10/4/2011

The past couple of years I haven’t ridden my horse Mel much because life got in the way.  So, in March I took Mel to a trainer for conditioning and de-sensitizing.  Andre is my new-to-me Miniature Poodle.  I adopted him from a shelter – which can be a good or bad experience depending on how the dog was raised and treated.  I had no idea if Andre had ever been camping, this was our first test outing and he was a real trooper.

The weekend before the scheduled Indiana Foxtrotters Association (IFTA) outing to Tippecanoe River State Park, I checked Mel’s feet and called the farrier to schedule a trim.  We arranged to meet at the stables at 8 am Friday morning.  I rose at 5:45 so I could feed and walk Andre before heading out.  It takes me about 40 minutes to get to the stables.  On the way, I noticed that gas was $3.33 per gallon at both the BP and Shell stations and decided I better stop on the way home.  Andre and I pulled into the stables parking lot about 7:15 and I headed out to the pasture to bring Mel in.  I gave him a quick brushing and cleaned his hooves.  Then he, Andre and I waited for the farrier (Ann) to arrive.  There’s nothing more pleasant than standing in the light of dawn listening to the barn come alive with nickers and neighs.

Ann arrived at eight and made short work of Mel’s hooves, even though he was a little antsy.  He knew it was breakfast time and the other horses were chowing down.  After the trim, I took him back to his pasture and Andre and I headed home (since I have about a 3-hour drive to Tippy, I wanted to take a quick nap before leaving).  I noticed that the gas price had dropped to $3.19 at both stations – great!  I stopped and filled up my tank.  At home, Andre and I had breakfast and then settled in for an hour-long nap.

The alarm went off and we were on the move.  Packed up the truck, took one last potty break and left for the stables again.  Those of you who have your horses and trailers at home sure are lucky.  Obviously, the electronic signs at the gas stations now make it way too easy to change the price of gas.  Both stations had gas listed at $3.25 this time through.  So in about four hours’ time, gas went from 3.33 to 3.19 and then to 3.25.  At the stable, I retrieved Mel and he loaded without too much trouble, but lifting the hay bale into the truck about killed me.  Andre settled in his crate in the front passenger seat and the journey began.

Tippecanoe River State Park is near Winamac, Indiana.  Winamac is as far north as Fort Wayne, but west, north of Logansport.  The drive all the way to Logansport was dry, but after Logansport we went in and out of sprinkles, and when we pulled into the park, it was raining steadily.  I found my site, but was facing the wrong direction to back in easily, so I circled around to come at it from the other direction.  One the of the IFTA members, Gayle, was just getting out of her truck at the site next to mine, so she guided me in.  Gayle was taught to back up trailers by men and men use the “point the bottom of the steering wheel the direction you want the trailer to go” method.  Women, usually steer from the top of the steering wheel, so they use the “turn the wheel the opposite direction you want the trailer to go” method.  It’s that whole Mars/Venus thing – very confusing.  I unloaded Mel and fed and watered him, then unloaded the truck, let Andre have a potty break and finally hopped in the trailer to get dry.

I just purchased this trailer in March – traded in my 3-horse for a 2-horse.  My old trailer didn’t have air conditioning and after the last three summers, I made sure this one did.  But, when the salesman asked about a furnace, I said I didn’t need one.  “I always go to electric sites and I have a small heater that I use.”  I regretted those words this weekend because Tippecanoe’s horse camp is primitive.  I have been to Tippecanoe twice before but always camped at a nearby campground that has electric hookup and, although Tippy’s campground is nice, if it’s late in the season, I’ll be staying at the other place next time.  I bought a sleeping bag last year that is supposed to be warm down to zero.  I unzipped it to make a comforter and Andre and I were toasty beneath it.

Gayle has a portable generator and was able to make coffee on Saturday morning and fortunately for me, she invited me to partake of some.  After taking care of the horses, we had breakfast and sat and talked for a while.  The nice thing about camping when it is cold is that you get to have a leisurely morning waiting for it to warm up before riding.  Unlike riding in the middle of summer, where you get up early and try to get a ride in before the temperature becomes unbearable.  Then after the ride you spend your time trying to cool off.

One of Gayle’s many hats is dog trainer and she gave me lots of advice on training Andre.  I told her my main problem was his barking and lunging at other dogs.  I had no sooner said that than a couple of riders went by and Andre ran after them barking (yes, he was on a leash).  Gayle said that most trainers use the words “Leave it” to get the dog to stop.  So I yelled “Leave it” to Andre and to my surprise, he stopped and came running back and jumped in my arms.  Obviously he had been taught “Leave it” and his being held and loved-on was his reward.  Like I said before, I’ve been very lucky.

Two more club members arrived for a day ride and Gayle and I saddled up.  I put Andre in his crate and the four of us hit the trails.  It was a little chilly in the woods, but beautiful riding weather and Tippy has some really nice trails.  I was so pleased with Mel’s performance.  Since I hadn’t ridden since June I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely didn’t expect that he would be so good.  It was as though no time had passed at all.  Maybe he was just as anxious to get back into the swing of things as I was.  All four horses got along very well and we had no mishaps.  The paths were dry for the most part and what mud there was wasn’t bad.

Later we started a campfire and had a little something to eat.  I noticed that Mel kept looking over at me.  Poor thing.  He has always had all my attention, attention that was now going to Andre.  I went over to love on him and he kept pulling his head away – no doubt pouting about the new man in my life.  But, geez, Andre fits on my lap so much better.  After dinner, we sat around the campfire as long as we could before the cold got the best of us.  Back under the comforter we went, me and a dog that smelled like campfire smoke.

Sunday morning was a bit warmer, I actually took off my winter coat while mucking Mel’s area.  Then Andre and I once again wandered over to Gayle’s site for breakfast.  Todd and Lori (more IFTA members) were already there.  Todd likes to cook out in a large cast-iron skillet over the campfire.  I thought Andre was going to jump in the fire after the bacon and sausage.  Gayle, Lori and I went for a ride after breakfast.  The weather was perfect and the woods beautiful.  Periodically we would come across some other trail riders and even a few cyclists.  This was all good experience for Mel.  He learned to pass other horses on the trail without trying to kick or join them.  We rode three and a half hours – long enough that my knees started to protest.  Lori complained of her feet hurting too, so when we got close enough, we all dismounted and walked the rest of the way to camp.

We had lunch and then it was time to pack up to go home.  Mel didn’t give me much trouble loading for a change and the ride home went smoothly, except that I was getting low on gas and most of the small towns we passed had small gas stations.  There was no way I was going to pull my trailer into one of them.  I kept watching the distance to 465 on my GPS and my gas gauge and hoping that my gas would hold out, surely there had to be a large gas station before getting onto 465.  I found a gas station just before the entrance ramp and just before my gas gauge hit the red area of the dial.  A quick potty break for Andre and me, some gas and then the last part of the journey.

It was dark when I pulled into the parking lot at the stables.  I unloaded Mel and took him back out to his pasture.  He had been a trooper the whole weekend.  I seriously thought about leaving my trailer where it was and coming back out Monday morning to park it; then I remembered the spotlights on the back of the trailer.  I flipped those babies on and backed her in.  I was able to park it quickly for a change.  Andre patiently waited in his crate.  Since I had unloaded everything from the trailer to the truck at the campground, all I had to do was unhook the trailer and head for home.  We pulled into the garage between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.  I knew if I sat down that would be the end of that, so I unloaded the truck and hit the shower.

Back home, clean and in my jammies, I snuggled into bed with a fluffy little dog that still smelled faintly of campfire.  Life is good.


Wow, A TV Commercial Moment

This is Andre’s toy named Binkie.  As you can see, Binkie has received a lot of love from Andre.


The other night when I got home from work. Andre had urinated in his kennel.  So I pulled out the bedding and tossed it in the washer, along with Binkie, who spends the day in the kennel with Andre.

Later that evening I noticed Andre looking all around the living room and kitchen.  I realized that he had been looking for Binkie when he brought me his sock toy instead.  He likes the sock toy, but will pass it up for Binkie every time.  After we played for a while I remembered I hadn’t put the clothes in the dryer so I went to do that.  When I pulled Binkie out, I squeezed him to see if his squeaker  still worked.  It did and it brought Andre to the door of the laundry room.  He watched me intently as I pulled loose fuzz from Binkie.  Finally I handed Binkie to him and just like in the TV commercials, he took him and trotted out of the laundry room with his tail wagging.

So dang cute!!

Andre · Life

That’s shocking

Andre got out of the house one day and chased the back neighbor’s cat up a tree.  Man was he proud of himself.  That’s when I discovered that in his macho-chasing-mode, he doesn’t come when called – no matter how loudly I call.  Another time he got away from me and immediately ran for the neighbor’s yard to bark at their Labrador, Daisy.  Fortunately, they have a privacy fence between us; unfortunately the fence on the back side of the property is vertical railing with a wide enough space for Andre to walk right through.  He was marking her territory, when Daisy came from the side yard and saw him.  Andre started after her barking and showing no fear (at first).  But Daisy didn’t back down or run, she came charging.  Andre made a bee-line for the fence to get back through while I waved my arms at Daisy trying to get her to stop.

So I got some estimates on having a fence put in.  I wanted a privacy fence, but the cost was WAY too high.  Instead, I opted for an in-ground pet fence with the “shock” collar.  Now before you think I’m cruel, the installer let me feel the lowest level shock and it was very gentle.  Plus the collar beeps before he gets close enough to get shocked, so I just needed to train him to stop when he heard the beep.  The installer put up flags around the yard 3 feet from the wire and he walked Andre around the perimeter and gave him the command “back” when he got close enough to the flags to hear the beep.  He told me for the next 4 days, take him around the perimeter twice a day telling him “back” when the collar beeps, but to only let him get shocked once each day.  Then it would be time to start taking the flags down.

Next morning I took him out and took him up to a couple of flags and commanded “back” when the collar beeped.  Piece of cake.  That afternoon I took him out and couldn’t get him near the flags.  He planted his feet and wouldn’t budge.  The installer gave me strict instructions NOT to force him to go to the flags.  So, I dropped his leash and tried to get him to follow me freely – nope.  I tried throwing a Frisbee – nope.  I gave up.  After a couple of days of this, I decided to just let him go.  One evening I put on his shock collar and put him out.  It was dark, but I could see that something had caught his attention at the side of the house.  I heard him growl and I saw him start in that direction, he didn’t get far before he bolted for the deck and ran for the door, his tail between his legs.  A successful lesson.  After that he has figured out to stay away from the flags and he also knows which collar “bites” him.  When I put on his regular collar and leash he will follow me past the flags for a walk.  Now it’s time to start pulling up every other flag for a couple of days, then every other again, etc. until they are all gone.  I don’t think it will be a problem, he’s a very quick learner.

Andre · Life

New Companion


Last July I decided to get a dog.  I’ve always wanted a Poodle because they are extremely intelligent and easy to train, but I didn’t want to go through the puppy phase and the potty training, etc.  So, I decided to rescue an older dog.  I started searching the internet for local Poodle rescues and found what sounded like the perfect match – a male Miniature Poodle, nine years old and housebroken.  The ad said that the previous owner had developed Alzheimer’s and wasn’t able to care for the dog any more.

So I made arrangements to see the dog the next time the shelter had an adoption clinic at the Tractor Supply in Greenfield.  That’s about an hour’s drive for me.  When I arrived,  I held Andre for a while to get acquainted and ask questions and he bonded with me very quickly.  When I set him down, he started trying to jump back in my arms.  I decided to take him and after filling out the paperwork, we were on our way home.

He laid in the passenger seat all the way home.  I stopped at a Petco to get dishes and food and Andre walked on the leash well.  At home he waited for me to enter the house first, a true gentleman.  Now, adopting a shelter/rescue dog is a gamble.  You might get a well-mannered dog or a total terror.  I was extremely lucky with Andre, he was obviously treated well and had received training.  He stayed by my side the entire weekend.  When I went to work on Monday, I confined him to one bedroom because I didn’t know if he could hold “it” all day.  I put out puppy pee pads and hoped for the best.  Unfortunately, he didn’t hold it and didn’t use the pad either.

The next day, I tried the laundry room and put up a gate.  He chewed a hole in the gate and managed to climb his way out.  This is the way each day went for the first week.  I made an appointment to take him to the Vet on Friday to be checked out.  The doctor said he was in good condition for his age and other than a knee that slipped out of joint periodically (which didn’t hurt him), he was fine.  I asked about crate training – was he too old to start and would he be able to hold his bladder 11 hours?  The vet assured me even older dogs could be crate trained and he would eventually learn to hold it.  So off to the pet store we went to pick up a crate.  After assembling the crate I put it on the floor and said to Andre, “Kennel up”, that’s training talk for “get the in the crate.”  He immediately walked into the crate – yippee – he had already been crate trained.  It took a few days for him to learn to hold “it” all day and even now he has an accident periodically.  But I put puppy pee pads down under the crate and it is fine.