Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back Home

Babies in the back on the way home

It's been quite a week. I haven't written about the dogs' return or anything else because I was drained. Dexter neutering disturbed the balance between the two dogs, causing them to have a few big fights that looked very scary, but weren't really serious (they are big woofers). They are settling down now and when the neutering will take full effect in two to four weeks, Dexter should accept Leo as the new top dog. We hope.

The training has paid off and it's much more pleasant to walk the dogs now. I walk them separately in the morning as I want to avoid any incidents until Dexter's neutering will take full effect. We walked past a few dogs, a couple even growled at them, but both dogs behaved perfectly.  I have new a collar setup that gives me better control over them just in case and if some stupid little dog will decide to attack them again I have a can of compressed air that makes the most terrible noise. So there are several safe guards to prevent any more fights and being dragged around. Which is a little bit sad as I think I started enjoyed it a bit. Being dragged around by two big dogs is a bit like water ski without water. Or ski.

After we got used to a dog-free house for five weeks it was a bit of a shock to get them back. Blake was fascinated to re-discover them and loves petting them. I can't believe how many things we've done wrong with our dogs over the years without even thinking about it. Little things that look meaningless to the humans, but the dogs perceive completely differently. I might go into more detail about the dogs' new bootcamp routine later as I'm still emotionally exhausted from the past week. Just thought a little update was in order.



Happy birthday Leo! It's Leo's 5th birthday today. The day we picked him up he was a tiny bit smaller!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off We Go!

We're about to leave today in a couple of hours to pick up the dogs. We won't see them today, we're just driving over three hours to Wales and check into a nearby hotel in the afternoon. There's no point popping over for ten minutes and getting the dogs excited for nothing.

Tomorrow and on Saturday we'll be trained as well to know how to handle the dogs now and get homework to carry on training the dogs at home. Then we're off home on Saturday afternoon. There's a pool at the hotel so Blake will be pleased.

I can't wait. With each passing day I get more and more anxious without my puppies. Poor Dexter had some discomfort from his neutering operation and I wasn't there to comfort him (nor were his balls).

This is a picture of the dogs on the day we left them. They were understandably very confused and worried. 

I can't wait to give them both lots of hugs and kisses. Friday morning can't get here soon enough.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bye Bye Baby (Einstein)

We love Baby Einstein. Yeah, I'm fully aware of the controversy that led Disney to offer refunds to customers. We didn't bother to claim ours as we are perfectly happy with the series of DVDs. Yes, watching Baby Einstein DVDs is probably not going to make your baby the next Albert Einstein and it is scary to think that some people actually had those expectations. I bet they also think that drinking lots of Diet Coke will make them thin.

We liked Baby Einstein mostly because it was a great short term babysitter. Strap Blake in the highchair, put on one of the DVDs and instantly you have an invaluable baby-free half hour, perfect to take the dogs out amongst other things. Also, Blake enjoyed watching them. It made him laugh, wave his hands and get excited. It calmed him down when he was upset or when waiting for Calpol to take effect.  So what's wrong with a little bit of Baby Einstein here and there? It wasn't instead of anything else, but on top of.

In case you never saw a Baby Einstein video, let me summarize it for you: a series of short video clips featuring toys, puppets and live action with classical music playing in the background. With the occasional exception of a mini-sketch with puppets, there is no plot whatsoever. The sort of colourful surrealism one might enjoy best while smoking pot (I would imagine).

So I was a bit surprised over the last few days when Blake started protesting a few seconds after I left him in front of the laptop with Baby Einstein on, even when it was one of his favourites like On the Go (about vehicles). Was his diaper soiled? Was he still hungry for more breakfast? Was he not feeling well? Was he sitting on some toy that was poking his bottom? I'm often a bit slow, but then it clicked.

As Blake improves his mastery over the iPod I keep adding stuff to it. Recently we added some Spongebob and Thomas the Tank Engine videos. Blake would be very quickly bored with any program that involved characters talking. If there was no music, he'd walk away. That's why his favourites were Baby Einstein and Lady Gaga videos. And now almost at once there was this drastic shift. While he still likes Lady Gaga music videos (and how!) he's now quickly bored with Baby Einstein and more interested in plot-driven videos that tell a story and use dialogue or a narrator.  The baby Einstein videos are supposedly aimed at 0-3 year olds, but Blake decided he had enough at two. Seeing him giggle at a Spongebob episode filled my heart with pride. Soon I can introduce him to true classics like Ren & Stimpy. Happy Happy Joy Joy!

It's exciting, but also a bit sad. Just like when Blake started to refuse to be bottle fed. Just another aspect of babyhood that is now left in the past. They grow up so fast... On the bright side there will probably be things he'd outgrow that I'll be happy to be done with like High School Musical type nonsense or Justin Bieber... *shudder*  



Miron, my uncredited part-time proofreader disapproves of the Justin Bieber mention saying that Blake is way too macho to ever like someone like that. One can only hope!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Doggie Weight Loss.

What's the best way to lose weight for dogs? Why, chop something off, of course! I'll get to that in a second.

As I mentioned before we were supposed to go this week to pick up the dogs from their training summer camp, but that never happened. We booked a hotel for two nights and were supposed to go on Wednesday and come back on Friday night, staying there for two days of training so we'll be brought up to speed about what the dogs learned and what we needed to carry on doing at home.

On tuesday while the three of us were out and about we got a call from Terry, the dogs' trainer. He told Miron that we shouldn't come back yet because the dogs weren't ready. He took them out to a nearby park the day before and Dexter, who was alright with many other dogs, flipped out at a boxer and was very hard to restrain. Miron asked why was this a big surprise. That's exactly why the dogs were sent there: after Dexter was traumatized by an attack by two Jack Russels he became overly aggressive towards small dogs. It took them four weeks to figure that one out? What were they doing all this time? Rolling in cotton candy? Terry explained that he was surprised by the intensity of Dexter's attack, but that wasn't new to us. When Dexter went for it, he went for it. If you open the dictionary at "Apeshit Crazy" you'll see a picture of Dexter.

Needless to say we were dismayed. One second we were excited about meeting the dogs again and getting them yummy treats and the next we were wondering what next. What were our options? We couldn't possibly just pick up the dogs and live with it. Dexter's behaviour was getting worse. It didn't matter what were the circumstances that led to the current situation, I can't get dragged around by two out of control dogs and wait until someone will get seriously hurt. Certainly not with a toddler around. The last few walks with the two dogs before they went away were nerve-wracking. The trainer said he'll work on them for yet another week to find and determine the trigger, but that didn't sound too promising.

So what did that mean? It meant we had to give Dexter away. His breeder said she'll be always willing to take him back. We started thinking about the idea. We'll only give him back if we got a guarantee that he wouldn't be put down. But then where will he end up? And with a reputation of an aggressive dog how can we be sure he won't end up in a dog fighting ring? 

That was one sickening aspect of the concept, the other was the effect of the separation on us. Although they had the occasional disagreement, Leo and Dexter love each other and play together every day and groom each other. When our previous dog died Leo took it so bad we feared we might lose him too. Who knows how losing Dexter will affect him? And how would poor Dexter feel to lose all of us after being with us for 18 months? And don't get me started about me... It all just made me sick, but I knew we had no choice.

Or did we?

Going back to talking about doggie weight loss. Yesterday morning Dexter has lost whatever his testicles used to weight. 

Snip Snip.

The operation went well and hopefully by four to six weeks it will take full effect and Dexter will be calmer and less aggressive. We'll be picking them up next week I hope, or at the latest the week after that.

A moment of silence for Dexter's balls.

Baby Dexter's first night with us. Leo is rightfully concerned...


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Video time.

The hot weather and various distractions make it hard for me to sit down and write properly so I'm going to cheat and post a Blake video. Been a while since I did that anyway. This one shows his mad iPod Touch skills. It was taken this morning. Since then Blake managed to master the memory game and likes to show that off. I think in a couple of months he's going to invent his own gizmo as the iPod will be too primitive for him.



Please forgive my singing at the end.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wanna See Something Funny?

Well, if you want to see something funny you better skip this post. Maybe try looking for "funny pictures of cats" on Google.

Many people travel quite far for the pleasure of shopping in Central London. Perhaps it's my general dislike of shopping (I know, I'm so bad at being gay it's not even funny), it could be the fact that I live in London for thirteen years now or it could simply be the fact that I hate people (readers of my blog and my son excluded). 

So as luck would have it on Thursday I found myself wandering around Covent Garden in the icky heat amongst lots of tourists. The plan was brilliantly simple: drive for some yummy Dim Sum and then go food shopping and straight back home. But as the three of us left the Dim Sum place my better half remembered that he needed some shirts and so started our tour of the clothes shops in Covent Garden which is practically next door to China Town. Blake didn't like being indoors so I waited with him outside to look at cars. Well, he looked at cars and I fiddled with my iPhone 4 (which is so ancient now, like what, two weeks old?).

I had the joy of passing this t-shirt stall. You know, the type of t-shirts you see on sale everywhere, but you don't actually see anyone tasteless enough to wear them in public. 

"Haha, look I got you this funny t-shirt."

"Haha. Thanks! It is funny. Let me stick it in the back of the closet. Or the rubbish bin."

The hilarity and wit are mind blowing. Guy putting a gun to his head because he's getting married. "If you see the police, warn-a-brother", "no, I'm not on f***ing Facebook". Etc. Etc. Nothing new. I saw tons of them on Venice Beach when we visit LA in april.

One shirt did catch my attention. It's the one in the middle, top row. You might need to click on the picture to see it properly. It says "this man likes cock" with a finger pointing to the person on the right. Can you imagine the comedic possibilities? You can stand next to someone while wearing this shirt and have a friend quickly take a photo. Hahaha! Amazing! It's funny because who likes cock? Girls and gays, both are bad things to be compared to. How very humiliating!

Can you imagine a similar shirt mocking someone because he was a "towelhead" to mock muslims or the N word to mock blacks? I don't think that shirt would've lasted long on that display. But it's OK to display homophobic "humour" in broad day light in the middle of London.

I don't think it's funny at all and I'm sure that a closeted gay teen, just like I was, would be very upset to see something like that in the middle of the street. Grown up married with kid me just gets annoyed and whines about it on his blog. Yay for progress!


Wednesday, July 07, 2010


One thing (among many others) that really pisses me off, is the lack of outrage over a massive misogynic and sexist discrimination that is rarely ever discussed or debated openly in... Well, anywhere really.

You get the occasional outcry against muslims and their use of burkas. I must say that I somewhat agree and I think burkas are a way to oppress women. There's no modesty in covering your face, it's just a way for men to erase women's sense of self and turning them into a husband's possession. But before we get too smug about how morally superior we are over here in the west, let's look at boobies. Or more like, let's not since they're all covered.

I'm a guy and I can show off my nipples anywhere. I can walk down the street with my shirt off if I want to. On the other hand if I was a woman I'd probably be arrested and fined for indecent exposure. Why? Why is it OK to show male nipples, but not female nipples? We all know the answer. Men find female breasts attractive and therefore want them to be covered to avoid temptation. Oh, oops. Sounds familiar?

And just look how across most cultures this seems to be the case. Male nipples aren't considered nudity, female nipples are. In fact if we see some place where the locals go around with their tits out we nod our heads at their primitive ways. Only a few days ago Facebook censored pictures showing a topless doll. Guess what sex the doll was?

As an extension of that absurd discrimination public breast feeding is considered obscene by many. Boobs being used for their original purpose is considered indecent by those who can't help seeing them as a sexual object.

How the f*** (excuse my censored bad language) is this acceptable and a non-issue? It's the crux of sexist discrimination and no one is doing anything about it. Most feminist organizations fight sexual portrayal of women and unwittingly harm the cause for equality. I'm gay so I'm obviously not trying to cunningly make women everywhere to whip out their airbags.

I don't think about it often, because when I do it really makes me angry. Especially since I don't think anything will change about it in my life time.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Life Without My Doggies

As I mentioned in my original post on the subject, the first couple of days without the dogs were really weird. I couldn't enjoy the fact that I didn't have to take them on walks or feed them and therefore had more time for myself. I simply missed them too much and was worried that they were even more miserable being away from home and from us, something they have never done in the past.

Well, it's now been almost three weeks (on Thursday) and I must say that I'm actually enjoying my time off from the dogs. Sort of. (I really hope there won't be any technological advances anytime soon that will allow dogs to read blogs.)

I can see why some people rather not own a pet even if they do like them. Much less work, the house is cleaner, no big doggies blocking the way when you're in a hurry, no accidental slobber on your clothes just before you leave for work and in Dexter's case, not being dragged down the street. I do miss them, but not as much as I thought I would. I actually got used to not having them around. The house does not feel weird and empty without them. And Blake? He couldn't care less.

Mostly what makes it easier is knowing that they're actually having fun over there and that the training is apparently going well (I'll believe it when I next meet another dog with Dexter and remain vertical).

But I do miss them. I do miss them greeting me when I come home. I do miss their satisfied and grateful expressions after I walked or fed them. I miss sharing a sofa with Leo while I'm in the living room. I miss Dexter's random kisses. I miss Leo putting his head on our bed, desperate to go on it and knowing this is as far as he can go. I miss seeing Dexter and Leo chasing each other in the field during the midnight walk. I just miss them.

But next week we'll be heading over to Royvon in South Wales for a few days to be trained ourselves (I hope we get treats if we're good!) so we can carry on training them at home and then we'll all head back. Should be a hoot! I can't wait to show Leo my new iPhone 4 and tell Dexter that the TV show V got the green light for a second series.

And now pictures from Royvon:

Dexter the cuddle bunny

Dexter in the Play all Day area

Leo Play all Day

Leo is tired, but happy

Dexter and his trainer Terry and some other Great Dane. Notice how Dexter is so well behaved and not trying to eat the other's dog face.

Still not trying to eat the other dog's face. Good puppy!

Leo is socializing with a boxer.

Happy Leo

I'm not sure what's going on here, but I can always recognize that expression on Leo's face. He's being told off and he's feeling guilty because he really does want to be a good boy.

The boys own the place

Is it treat time?

Leo and Dexter weren't tagged in this photo, it's not dated and there were plenty of other Great Danes there so it might not be them. It could be their evil(er) twins!


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Blake Headlines.

A random selection of Blake updates.

Blake likes playing with my computer when I'm not on it. I'm not sure what he exactly does, but I often find the mouse and keyboard dangling by their cords and any drawer in his reach open with its content scattered all over the carpet. The keyboard that came with my Mac eventually stopped working and I'm now typing on a piece of crap that's barely responding and the layout is just a little different, but enough to totally screw up my blind typing. Gotta get a new one tomorrow.

In other news Blake enjoys taking pictures using the Mac's photobooth software. He especially likes trying on Papa's goofy glasses. In fact, whenever he finds a pair of glasses he tries putting them on, not very successfully. I hope he won't be needing glasses any time soon, or even ever, but just in case it's good to know that he can pull it off.

Reading the news today, it's Binky!

Blake is totally into drawing nowadays. He'd occasionally try it in the past, but not quite see the point of it. Now he loves scribbling. It got to the point that I couldn't leave any work from college lying around in the dinning room or Blake will take it upon himself to help me mark it.  His notes were very insightful, but illegible. There was a learning curve involved where I taught him that he can't use the pen to draw on Papa or on his iPod. Friends gave us one of those magnetic scribble and wipe boards so that might reduce any potential drawing rampages on the wallpapers - for now. He loves taking turns: he'd scribble a little and then give me the pen. Sometimes if I draw a car or a panda well enough I may get a smile out of him.

I wrote a bit in the past about Blake's swimming lessons. We stopped with that for now, but I do still take him to our local pool which is quite nice and fun for kids as it has a wave machine and various sprinkles and fountains. Unfortunately since I go alone I can't take any pictures of Blake. Maybe I can take my brand new iPhone 4 and see if it's waterproof. Blake has been to that pool twice now. The first time he was a bit overwhelmed by everything, but on his second visit he was fearless. He kept wading through the water into the deep end and when the water nearly covered his mouth I'd try picking him up or pulling him back and he'd resist in annoyance. The little man has a plan and knows what he wants! I was annoyed by all the 6-10 year olds running, splashing and rough playing around us, but Blake enjoyed studying their behaviour. Obviously doing his research for when it'll be his time to be an annoying and rowdy 6-10 year old.

We got some flute-like toys ages ago which Blake ignored. When he discovered he could make noises by blowing air into them he was quite pleased. We cheered him the first few times and now after blowing into the toy he grins expectantly and waits for the applause. He giggles and trembles a little in sheer delight every time he gets a standing ovation for his performance.

It's easy to know when Blake is approaching you. Usually you'll hear Lady Gaga's Poker Face playing in the distance and gradually getting louder and louder until finally Blake himself will show up. He'd often place the iPod next to me and expect me to sing and dance along and he would excitedly try watching both me and Ms. Gaga perform for him.

It's a good thing I stopped playing World of Warcraft or any other kind of multiplayer game that relies on other human players, since I can never play anything peacefully when Blake is awake. He'd often come to me with a book to read for him, a piece of paper and a pen so we could draw together or a box of a floor puzzle for me to assemble for him while he takes it apart. I always pause my game, movie or TV show and entertain him. Oddly enough I often enjoy the interruption more than my original activity.

When Blake just started going to his nursery I was concerned that he didn't care when I left and was quite upset when I came to take him home away from all the fun. Separation anxiety is a normal development stage and I was concerned that Blake wasn't experiencing it. Well, it only took a couple weeks. Now most times Blake would cling to me and wail. I'd have to give him to one of the girls and run away. I'd wait outside until I couldn't hear him cry anymore. A couple of times that took quite a while. Sometimes he'd even start crying as soon as we walked inside and rarely when we would just leave home. Like a dog sensing a vet visit, toddlers can sense nursery visits. He's going only twice a week to socialize and play with other children, so it's not an everyday occurrence.  But as hard as it is sometimes to leave him there crying, it's always a joy to pick him up. A massive grin spreads on his face when he notices me and he'd run to me and fling himself on me in the most melodramatic manner. I love it.

Blake can now snack whenever he wants. He discovered the fruit bowl in the dinning room and helps himself to a couple of apples or pears when he feels peckish. It's the only snack within his reach and he loves it just the way it is, no need to cut it to wedges or slice it. The only problem is that he'd throw the apple away when he's done, doesn't matter where. Oh well.

When the weather is nice enough I put sun block on Blake and let him run naked in the garden to play in and around his baby pool. He took an apple with him to snack on and conducted scientific experiments by throwing it into the water to see it float and then carried on eating it. Walking around naked with an apple he brought up both biblical and scientific connotations. 

There are probably tons of other little anecdotes and new bits, but I think that's enough for now. Certainly when writing on this utterly crappy keyboard.