New Hedgehogs

Our dog Ellie's toy hedgehog sitting on top of my North Face Hedgehog III hiking shoes

I needed new hiking shoes and when I saw that The North Face had a model named Hedgehogs, I took this as a sign from God. The problem with signs, though, is how to interpret them. Was this a sign that they would bring me as much happiness as Ellie’s hedgehogs bring her? Or a sign that she would chew my Hedgehogs as mercilessly as she chews hers?

Ever the optimist I gambled on the former and so far, so good. I’m still breaking them in, REI didn’t have them in my normal size of 9.5 but half a size larger seems to be working OK. I wore them outside for the first time today on our evening walk, I’ll probably give them more of a workout in the Gorge this weekend to see how they do on hills. Plus I need to ease my body back into hiking if I’m going to take a big hiking trip late this month as I usually do.


Our dog Ellie on her back in our backyard holding her baby hedgehog dog toy in her mouth

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to dogs who can hedgehog again.”
Luke 2:13-14, more or less

Where were you this morning? Did you see the heavens open? Did you hear the angels rejoice?

I know one dog who did.

Ellie had her final visit to the surgeon today and Dr. Munjar said the x-rays showed a nice boring joint, meaning she had healed nicely and we can start easing her back into her normal routine. Ellie and I celebrated with a few hedeghog throws in the backyard before I had to head in to work.

If you’re in the Portland area and need surgery for your pet, I highly recommend Dr. Munjar and the Veterinary Surgical Center of Portland. Dr. Munjar has a great (doggy) bedside manner and explained everything very clearly and did great work. He provided detailed instructions for her post-op recovery and everything proceeded just like he said. From the moment we met him we felt we had made the right decision. The staff is friendly and knowledgable and took good care of us.

If I ever need surgery I can only hope to be in such good hands!

Oh Baby Hedgehog! How I’ve Longed For This Moment!

Our dog Ellie stares at her toy baby hedgehog that she tossed at my feet as we play in the grass in our backyard in Portland, Oregon

One nice thing about how well Ellie is healing is that she can now join me in the backyard like before, minus the running and jumping. That even means the return of baby hedgehog to outside time as long as she doesn’t get too rambunctious. She had tossed it to me here, wanting to play like in days of old, but we’re not ready for that yet. I’ve adapted baby hedgehog play since she first got her surgery, matching it to her allowed activity level. We started off with a game where she didn’t need to move anything but her head, to now where she can be more mobile but doesn’t need to run and jump.

Labrador Receiver

Our dog Ellie stands behind her toy hedgehog in our backyard in Portland, Oregon

On fall weekends throughout the years, we’ve heard the names of many great passer and receiver combinations. Bradshaw to Swann. Montana to Rice. Aikman to Irvin. Manning to Harrison (and now Manning to Wayne). But this fall, a new pair arrived on the scene that some think could be the greatest to ever play the game.

Cameron drops back … rolls to his right … finds Ellie all alone downfield! No one will touch her! No one will catch her! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdooooooooown!

The greatest pair of all time? I’ll let the pundits decide. My detractors will point out — fairly I think — that unlike Peyton Manning, I haven’t had to face the complex blitzing schemes of the modern NFL. I can’t argue the point. On the other hand, Peyton has never had to deal with Reggie Wayne drooling all over the ball.

We all have obstacles to overcome.

A Question for You Ellie

Our dog Ellie rests her head on her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

Ellie you say that hedgehog loves you as evidenced by how often it stays with you, but would it stay if you weren’t chomping on its head?

Our dog Ellie looks at me with seemingly sad puppy dog eyes as she plays with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

I’m sorry Ellie, I’m sorry! Of course hedgehog loves you, it does it does. Please don’t look at me with those sad puppy-dog eyes!

Our dog Ellie plays with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy as it falls across her front leg

There’s my happy girl! That’s better … wait, Ellie, why is hedgehog running away?

Free Range Ellies

Our dog Ellie lays on the hardwood floor while squeaking her hedgehog

We’ve made some big progress on the Ellie front over the past couple of weeks — we’ve started giving her occasional free reign in the off-leash section of the park just a hop-skip-and-jump from our home. We leave her leash attached to make it easier to corral her when necessary, as she sometimes gets rather excited and her ears stop working. For a dog her size, she runs really fast and can overwhelm smaller dogs or run into stationary dogs or people.

But it’s still a big step forward, it wasn’t that long ago that we weren’t sure she’d ever be allowed off-leash, even for a moment. She got loose once in the early days and had no concept of the danger of streets or cars, and wasn’t coming back when called. We’ve been working hard on her stopping and waiting for permission to cross the street, and on her learning to heel and to come. She’s gotten good enough (when treats are proffered, of course) that we let her have some play time when we’re comfortable with the other dogs (and owners) who are around.

Trouble, 12 O’Clock High

Our dog Ellie looks up while playing with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

“I see you up there little hawk and I’m sure you’re mighty hungry, but know this: you come for my hedgehog, you come for me. My name is Ellie!”

This picture is for my wife who loves Ellie’s soft, floppy ears. I forget what drew Ellie to attention, probably a bird outside or little Sam jumping onto the windowsill, but for a split second she raised her head (and ears) before resuming the serious business of squeaking her hedgehog.

I love this dog.

Some Toys Should Come with a Warning

Our dog Ellie chews on her stuffed hedgehog dog toy on the hardwood floor of our dining room

A few months back my wife picked up this hedgehog from Plush Puppies for our dog Ellie. If you bite its head it squeaks (who wouldn’t?), it grunts when you bite its hindquarters, and it even rattles when you shake it all about.

My advice to Plush Puppies? Put a warning label on your toy!

Something like:

Warning: After she plays with hedgehog, your dog will abandon all other toys. When you throw dear old goose, her first and favorite toy, she will look at you like you just stepped off the moon. Rabbit had a brief moment in the sun but no more. Poor mallard and pheasant never had a chance. It’s all hedgehog, all the time.

I have to say I’m surprised by how much she loves it. Goose was such a natural fit, it squeaks easily — Ellie has turned carry-and-squeak into an art form — and is the sort of quarry for which retrievers were bred. The round shape of the hedgehog makes it harder for her to carry and squeak at the same time, she often has to stop and place it on the ground for a proper squeaking before continuing. And I doubt very much that a dog has ever retrieved a hedgehog in real life.

But whatever it is, the hedgehog has it.