Day 66 – The evolution of Electra

You know, there was a time when we first got Electra that we worried she was mute. Electra wasn’t even a year old when we adopted her from the Arizona Beagle Rescue, and she was the calmest, most laidback dog Stevie and I had ever seen. We first met her at a foster mom’s house in Goodyear. Electra and a dozen other beagle and beagle/basset mixes ended up being rescued after their owner had a heart attack and was told by his doctors that he needed to get rid of all the pups he was training to track rabbits. Electra had gone to a foster home with six other young beagles, and when we walked up to the door and rang the doorbell, both Stevie and I jumped when full pack of crazy hound dogs started jumping and howling and falling over each other trying to greet us and lick us and sniff our pockets for hidden treats as we edged our way into the living room.

It was mass chaos.

But across the room, sitting demurely in the corner and staring at us with a pair of big brown eyes, was our sweet Electra. She just sat, watching, quietly waiting her turn. When we called her name she walked over, put her paws up on my thighs and invited me to scratch behind her floppy brown ears.

Five minutes later, we signed the adoption papers and took her home.

For the first six months or so, we honestly wondered if something was wrong with her. She wasn’t like any other puppy we’d ever known. She would occasionally get up and play and run around, but she never really barked or growled or made any kind of noise. And she was lazy as hell, right from the beginning, preferring to snuggle up in your lap and take long naps and follow us slowly from room to room, flopping down on the floor at our feet as soon as we stopped moving.

Hell, she even faked a leg injury to keep me from taking her for walks. Apparently she didn’t appreciate the pace I demanded, which is an average (and maybe even slightly slower than average) walking pace. But Electra simply isn’t interested in doing anything except meandering at a snail’s pace around the neighborhood, nose glued to the ground.

At that point, we were honestly thinking maybe Electra couldn’t bark. When we were going through the adoption process, we’d heard that there were several beagles at the rescue whose former owners had the dog’s voice boxes surgically removed because they couldn’t stand the way the beagle’s howled and barked.

No joke. That’s actually a thing some people think it’s okay to do to a pet. Pricks.

But the folks at AZBR assured us that Electra was in perfect health and there was no sign her former owner had done anything of the sort. In fact, before he had to surrender Electra, she was being trained to hunt and track rabbits, which meant she had actually been rewarded for catching a rabbit’s scent and then signaling her victory would a good ol’ hound dog howl.

The first time we ever heard Electra voice, we didn’t even know it was her. She’d been out in the backyard for awhile, when all of a sudden we heard a booming, rhythmic bark that was so loud and deep it rattled the windows. We went outside, thinking one of our neighbors must have a new pet, but all we saw was Electra, nose bouncing along over the ground and making some weird wah-wah-wah-wah sound, sort of like a small helicopter, her tail wagging so hard her entire ass-end was swaying back and forth and damn near knocking her off-balance. Outside, the barking was so loud it was echoing, and it wasn’t until Stevie walked right up beside Electra that he realized she was the one making all the noise. We tried calling to her, tugging on her collar, promising her cookies, but there was no stopping her until the scent ran out.

There was something about Electra’s deep, booming bark that just cracked me up, so I thought it might be funny to actually teach her to bark on command. And knowing how food whorish motivated she is, I decided to train her to bark on command and reward her with dog cookies and bits of kibble.

Worked like a charm.

But it also wasn’t long before I realized I’d unleashed a beast. As soon as Electra discovered that she could actually be rewarded with food for barking, she decided that it was perfectly acceptable to let us know LOUDLY each and every time she felt it was time for breakfast or lunch or dinner or second and third dinner (I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that we have to feed this ridiculous hound five small meals a day to keep her from acting sullen and waking us up every couple hours through the night).

And now that she’s entered her senior years and she’s getting old and ornery like a Betty White sort of old lady who just doesn’t give a f*** anymore and will do whatever the hell she wants, Electra does not give two shits whether we yell at her or scold her or plead for her to stop. She just announces her hunger and her impatience like this:

If she wasn’t such a great dog otherwise, this would be really annoying. 😉

Love you Electra!

Day 25 – Escape Room

We’re closing in on Electra turning 11, and it’s getting harder to deny, our sweet hound is getting old. Obviously we noticed it in her face, as it slowly turned from mostly brown to mostly white. And this past year or so, she has turned into brash old lady who just doesn’t give a fu** about anything but trying to live her best life. And that roughly translates into her being more stubborn than usual and completely disregarding any rules we try to set in place to quash her food-whoring ways.

I imagine Betty White is her spirit human.

Most recently, though, her give-no-shits attitude has prompted her to attempt slow-motion jailbreaks. This morning, while we were attempting to get the kids wrangled and out the door to load up the car, Electra quietly sauntered out the door with us. Luckily Stevie managed to wrangle her back into the house with the promise of a cookie.

Less than 10 minutes later, as Stevie was pulling out of the driveway with the kids, I stepped out the garage door to start my car, and didn’t notice that the door stayed open a crack behind me. The next thing I knew, Electra was out the door again and heading for the driveway. I hollered and grabbed her collar and promised her another cookie if she would just get her ass inside.

I mean seriously, what does this dog think she’s doing? It’s 8 degrees out, a foot of snow on the ground, and God knows there is no way she’s going to go out there and find another family who is going to stick to her ridiculous feeding schedule.

I honestly don’t think she would make it far. This old girl has about two blocks of stamina in her. But hey, at least she still has enough spunk left in her to try, right? Even if she gives me a mild heart attack every time she tries to escape, part of me is kinda proud that she is the type of dog who, even in her ripe old age, will see her opportunity and take it.

Day 6 – A day of rest

Sundays are for resting. Electra takes this very seriously.

You know, we could learn a few things from this hound.

Me and my shadow

Among her many…uh…quirks, Electra seems to have a teensy little bit of separation anxiety. And by teensy, I mean that she has a tendency to lie on our shoes when we try to put them on in the morning in a cunning attempt to keep us from walking out the door. She howls (eardrum-shattering, the-neighbors-probably-think-we’re-killing-her howls) when we come home, whenever we come home, whether we’ve been gone a week or 10 minutes. And just the sight of a suitcase (whether we’re packing it or rearranging the closet) can send her straight into a frenzy. She follows us around the house, wide-eyed and panting, refusing to let us out of her sight.

Electra strikes again

There is no denying our dog is a sweetheart. She loves to snuggle. She’s awesome with the kids. She immediately loves everyone who walks through the door (which won’t bode well for us if someone ever breaks into our house). In many ways, Electra is the perfect dog.

And then she goes and reminds us that even our sweet, droopy-faced hound can be a freakin’ jerk.

Case in point–not only did Electra manage to swindle us out of two 7:30 feedings by feigning starvation when I came downstairs after putting Henry to bed (even though Stevie had just fed her not even 5 minutes prior), but she also decided to dig the Iams bag out of the garbage while we were upstairs putting Cadence to bed, and then she proceeded to tear the bag into tiny pieces and strew them across the floor just so she could lick the last few crumbs out of the empty bag.

Crumbs! All this for crumbs, people! After she already had double dinner.

Seriously, the dog is out of control.

The Family Photo Fiasco

Every year, as the summer gives way to fall, I start getting a little anxious thinking about our Christmas cards. I know, it’s a really stupid thing to fret about, but I can’t help it. I enjoy sending cards out. Plus, for the friends and family who don’t have Facebook or regular access to my blog, it just might be the only update or piece of correspondence they receive from us during the year.

As much I love writing letters and keeping up with the people I love, let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day and with two very active kids, a husband, a dog, a full-time job, a couple of unfinished writing projects, I’m pretty much tapped out when it comes to sitting down and writing letters. Hell, even my epic emails have fallen by the wayside in recent years.

I have several local photographer friends who take really beautiful photos, the type I would definitely love to see hanging on my wall. But here’s the thing, I hate having my photo taken…like, seriously hate it. And besides that, I guess I must like torturing myself and my family as I default to setting my camera on a tripod and trying to take our own family photos because, let’s face it, what’s more fun than trying to herd your hyper husband, silly daughter, teething infant, and food-whoring hound all together long enough to shoot enough photos where you can work your Photoshop magic to swap out the strange expressions and closed eyes and cobble together something to throw on a Christmas card.

We lucked out the year Cadence was born. We’d run up to Phoenix to scout out a location where I was going to shoot another family’s photos and decided to just haul Electra along and make a day of it. We found a bench to sit on. I put the camera on a tripod and set the timer (this was before I bought a wireless remote). Then I ran back over to grab a seat next to Stevie and situate Cadence in my lap.

By some strange luck, a freakin’ peacock suddenly meandered by, just behind my camera, which made Electra sit straight up and take notice. The shutter clicked a split second before she started pulling on her collar and trying to give chase.

37812_417905897709_679449_n

And that photo was our only real family photo right up until last Christmas.

Sure we had a couple other cute shots, just Stevie and Cadence and me. But Electra…she just wouldn’t cooperate.

Day 224-5

Day 223-1

Oh we tried several times over the years to get all of us in another photo. My favorite was the time we tried to get a quick shot (not even anything real formal) out on the porch swing. This time, I was sure it was going to work. It was a beautiful spring day. I’d just gotten the new wireless remote, which would completely eliminate me having to run back and forth between my camera and my family. All was going well, we were smiling and I was just beginning to press down on the remote button when a rabbit suddenly tore out of the bushes behind us and Electra made a wild leap and tried to jump right over my head while Stevie flashed a classic Stevie grin at the camera and Cadence stared at our howling hound with a look of horror on her face.

2012-04-10_023

Yeah, that one ended up on our Christmas card that year. I mean, come on, nothing says The Romanos like a crazy photo on a card.

Last year, we had fun using our Christmas cards to announce Henry’s impending arrival…

Christmas_card_2014_front1

And this year, well this year I really wanted to get a new photo taken, and even tried to find a little space in the calendar to reach out to one of my photog-a-friends and see if we just might be able to work in time for a session.

No such luck.

And so, down to the wire and wanting to get something in the mail this year, we turned to the old tripod and remote once again and gave it our best shot. We crowded in the family room since our trusty ol’ Nebraska weather finally decided to dump a whole mess of winter on us. Forty minutes, three dozen tries, two Photoshop head swaps, and one wheezing hound dog later and we managed to get something for the Christmas card.

IMGP2015

Oh, but the outtakes are too much fun…

IMGP1985

IMGP1987

IMGP1990

IMGP1981

IMGP1982

IMGP1997

IMGP1999

IMGP2004

IMGP1991

%d bloggers like this: