I haven’t posted in awhile, because I am in my “life is a rhythm” mode. Bailey and I have a pattern of walking, playing and eating that virtually trumps everything else. I don’t mind. There is something quite zen about it. The other day while I was walking her (I log in about 7-10 miles a day which includes walking with friends), I was thinking about how this is another “reinvention” of me, and how life is a series of reinventions. I have blocked in 2 years for puppy raising, and while I am not the dog whisperer, I am trying to be in tune with my dog and I love every minute of being with her. She has taught me patience, and the virtue of indeed smelling all of the roses (and dog poop, and p-mail, and bird poop). Year 2014 has been a combination of love, fun and hard work, and I don’t mind.
Well, I don’t mean to get dramatic, but at 65, it has dawned on me that I am at the front of the metaphorical bus. My parents have already gotten off the bus. I had lunch with a dear friend yesterday and we were talking about this “getting older thing”. She said that her parents never let on that after a certain age, everything hurts. Nor did they tell her that she would have an inner tube permanently around her waist! My parents were active, until they weren’t. I am still “sorta” active, and to that end, got a dog to keep me walking everyday. Anyone who knows me, knows I have never been really active. I am a reader, writer, puppeteer, who is a bit “round” (hey! it’s a shape), and who loathes exercise. Oh, I’ve done it, joined gyms, even did a stint where I exercised at home, and I even lost weight and looked half way decent (according to society’s standards). But since I have the attention span of a gnat, I couldn’t (wouldn’t) keep it up. Having Bailey, the soft coated wheaten terrier, has forced me to exercise by walking her many times a day. She will undoubtedly extend my life, so that I can hurt when I wake up in the morning, and nurture my inner tube.
When Bailey joined us, we had been just two for 42 years. We have have had cats during that time, but Bailey, well she was something different. A dog. She has upended the rhythms of that long union. We go outside as a family unit now, the three of us, hanging out in our back yard, laughing, running, chasing balls and sticks. We walk the dog together, and we also interact with Bailey separately. Kurt took the dog out yesterday while I was in NYC seeing two plays. They went to the Ken Lochwood Gorge. He brought the long leash and only one of his cameras and one tripod. He knew it would be a chore to do both, watch Bailey and take photos. At one point he touched poison ivy and with Bailey went down to the river’s edge to rinse off the poison. At the same time Bailey interacted with the water’s edge. The only water she has ever seen has been her water bowl. At just 7 months her world has been narrow. Seeing this large body of water excited and interested her. She slapped at the water’s edge getting both Kurt and her wet. Then in a blink of Kurt’s eye, Bailey backed up and took a running leap and jumped into the river, sinking, the water over her head. She bobbed up, and doggy paddled back to the edge, Kurt and safety. Kurt sent me this text “Bailey can swim!”
Bailey and I went to Obedience School on Saturday. What a disaster or as I like to call it, a hot mess. Bailey loves people and other dogs, so I was expecting her to be over excited and jumping up and down. She was very good, and while she did sniff other dogs and let them sniff her, she wasn’t a problem AT all. What the problem was is that this class is in a pet store. The pet store has a designated area in a separate SMALL room without any ventilation. The instructors for this class are starting a new curriculum and are essentially trying to meld their previous way of teaching with one from the new manual, so they are a bit timid about the whole process. Picture a small room, with 5 dogs and 10 people. One German Shepherd, one Chihuahua, one Pit Bull puppy, one large Bulldog with the head like a cow, and Bailey the Wheaten Terrier. The Bulldog (must be mixed because he is big and tall), barked loudly the entire time, and slobbered everywhere, while hyperventilating. No one could get the dog to stop barking, so the instructor had to teach about the loud booming voice of the dog. Keep in mind that whenever a person entered the store with their dog and they heard barking bulldog, they also chimed in which set the other dogs off. Bailey isn’t a barker. Bailey was channeling the hyperventilating and was breathing quick and heavily because of course you know WE were next to the barking bulldog. When I tried to train Bailey to do what I was learning she immediately rejected the treats we always use, because she was an example for the trainer at one point and the trainer gave her liver treats, which, let’s face it, beats what I had. So now I have a hyperventilating dog who is not paying attention to me, because she is watching the other dogs, because the Chihuahua at this point is trying to take everyone out. The pit bull puppy was splayed on the ground, trying to get cool from the tiles, and the German Shepherd was barking every time a new dog entered the store. At this point I have decided that Bailey will not be attending the classes anymore. I paid for 5 classes and will go, because we all know obedience classes are for the handlers anyway. I practiced what I learned from the one course, and will continue to do it on my own with my new liver treats.
In the picture above, Bailey is out on the porch. She is either on the porch, or out back on a 50′ leash that I have so that she can run, or we have her tethered to a cable run. Her ‘home’ is in the large kitchen, because we are packing our house up to sell it eventually, and she does not have full reign of the house to chew on the “curbside”, “donate”, “recycle” or “keep” piles.
Dogs are definitely NOT cats. I’ve always had cats. They’ve known where to poop immediately. They’ve curled up in a ball on my lap and purred. They rarely scratched me, and always seemed to know what I was feeling. As you can tell from my last cat, Miss Kitty, she even helped me heal. Now I have a dog, Bailey. She is a bundle of energy as a puppy, and demands, yes demands I say, attention all of the time. Play with me, let me chew on your shoes, bark bark bark, where’s the ball, where’s the stick, oh there’s a squirrel, oh look it’s the neighbor, bark bark bark its a garbage can I’ve never seen before, you want me to poop here, you want me to poop now, bark bark bark, hey, hey, hey, you at the end of my leash, walk faster there’s a leaf I want to chase, I don’t want to walk any more so I’ll just sit like a dead dog on the neighbor’s yard, what, you want to go in now.
Bailey is sitting on Kurt’s chair. She isn’t supposed to. I am SUPPOSED to tell her to get down. We’re both BAD BAD BAD
My poor friends and relatives have to endure daily pictures of my dog, Bailey. Well who said “turnabout is fair play?”. Over the years I have ooo’d and aww’d (quite genuinely and with love) over all of their children’s pictures, and now their grandchildren’s pictures. So, now it is my turn to share. I live in a community in Florida where everyone is out walking their dogs. As mentioned in a previous post, they all have small dogs. Bailey, a soft-coated wheaten terrier is considered a medium dog, and will grow up to about 45 pounds. She will turn 4 months on the 24th of February and will be 18 pounds, or twice what she weighed when I got her, a month ago. She has gotten taller, bossier, more confident, and if at all possible, cuter. What she hasn’t gotten yet, is house broken. WE are still working on that. She loves everyone who comes up to her, and licks them to death (with an occasional nip…but WE are working on that as well). I can’t seem to get her NOT to be so excited when she sees other people even though she sees the same ones over and over and over again, as they walk their dogs the same intervals that I walk Bailey. Her favorite activity is to sit and watch people, and then if they come her way her whole body wriggles with excitement, starting with her stubby tail. What I love about her is that she is absolutely in the moment. I have never had a dog before, and am learning all kinds of things, not only about Bailey, but about myself as well. She has taught me patience, as she will dig in and plop flat on the grass if she doesn’t want to walk anymore. I, in turn, have taught her that yes, I am at the end of the leash. What I do, when she digs in, is turn my back on her and wait….and wait….and wait…and enjoy the blue sky, beautiful weather, birds, clean air…then, she gets up because she realizes I am ignoring her….and off we go on our walk.
Bailey and her favorite toy…the cow
My father always wanted a dog and so did I growing up. But we moved constantly because my father was in the service. In addition my mother said that she knew we wouldn’t take care of the dog, and it would fall on her, and well, she loved dogs, but her plate was full with us. So, no dog for us. When my mother passed in 1996, my father ran right out and did the two things he wasn’t allowed to do: 1. buy jeans, and 2. get a dog. Wouldn’t you know it, my Dad looked terrible in jeans, so he stopped wearing them. But he still had his dog. The dog, a Scottish Terrier, quickly outwitted my father, and in return he was relegated to the laundry room most of the time, unless they went out walking, which was rare. My father tried obedience classes, twice in fact. And they both flunked twice. My father loved traveling, and of course with an unruly dog, that was impossible. So I volunteered one time to babysit the dog for 2 weeks while he was away. In no time the dog ripped up my linoleum floor in the kitchen. I wasn’t going to have that, so within the 2 week span, I trained his dog to sit and heel, because unless the dog learned those two commands I wasn’t taking him walking. He learned quickly. Notice I use the phrase “the dog”. I didn’t want to get a relationship with the dog, because that would be trouble, and I would undoubtedly end up the owner of a used Scottish Terrier. Dad came home picked up his dog, and they continued their relationship, with the dog in control once again. When Dad passed, 4 years later, my sister passed the dog onto someone who had owned Scottish Terriers, and retrained the dog. Next thing you know we were getting pictures of the dog with a red bow tie carrying the ring in a basket in a wedding, down the aisle. He lived a very good life, out of the laundry room into the home of a family that knew how to train dogs. One could say he was rescued.