As I continue to save my Pennies for Piper, I remain faced with another pressing problem (too much alliteration maybe?). Miss P is of course on leash at all times when I exercise the rest of the crew. And since it’s dark in the morning when we go out, and dark in the evening when we go out, their exercise is primarily chasing the Dumbball (the light up one) as walks along the dykes and in the blueberry fields are treacherous and impossible. They will all of course be much stupider come Spring as a result, but such is life. (insert eyeroll here)
The problem is not Dumbball, but rather that Piper wishes very much to chase the Dumbball, and can’t, because she’s leashed. But Piper is a creature of muscle memory, and all her muscles remember is the following sequence:
Food Lady raises Chuck-It. Piper tenses.
Food Lady releases ball from Chuck-It. Piper does crazy insane demon summoning spins in place, like a pissed off yo-yo at the end of the leash.
Food Lady yells “STOP THAT!” Piper falls down at tail end of spins, because three legs can’t support her insanity.
This freaks me out, because every single time she does it, my brain can hear the ACL in her other leg tearing apart. But yelling “STOP THAT” is not only very unhelpful, but also pointless because Piper just can’t help herself. Doing crazy mad spins before bolting after the ball is both the reason she NEVER gets the ball first, but also just what she has been doing for ten long years. She can’t stop doing it. And I can’t stop her, short of leaving her at home, which I don’t want to do.
Several weeks of doing this over and over twice a day have left me an emotional wreck! As I was laying in bed the other night (in a fetal position, rocking back and forth and muttering to myself) I had an AHA! moment. I remembered that somewhere, in my stash of dog accessories that I like to
hoard SAVE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, I had just the ticket for solving this problem.
About a year ago, I acquired a dog climbing harness made by Ruff Wear. It was brand new, and was donated to someone who could not use it, so I called dibs, cackled madly, rubbed my hands together gleefully and brought it home. Then I remembered that I never, EVER, intend to climb anything more strenuous than a flight of stairs, and that this was a pointless addition to my
already significant hoarding problem COLLECTION OF PERFECTLY REASONABLE DOG ACCESSORIES.
BUT! – if the harness is designed to haul a dog bodily up a sheer rock cliff with a rope, surely it could be used to hoist Piper a foot or so off the ground every time I throw the ball so she can’t fling herself around like St. Vitus. So I dug it out of storage.
My muscles don’t retain memory as well as Miss P’s (just ask The Sadist – he’s always complaining that he can’t teach me nuthin’!) so it’s taking a bit to get into our new routine. Sometimes I haul her up in the air, then I put her down and throw the ball, and then I get mad and yell “STOP THAT!” because she devil spins. Other times I hoist her in the air and then forget to put her down until my shoulder starts moaning in pain. But for the most part, it’s working out really well; I pick her up by her new handle with my left hand and chuck the ball with my right … she writhes around in the air doing her spins with no earthly contact … when the ball is out of sight and she has stopped wiggling, I place her gently back down.
It’s kind of like doing bicep curls with a 30lb really hairy weight. I’m gonna be so buff!
Part 2: On why I am NOT a frickin’ genius
The weather has been absolutely stunning the last two days. Sunshine! Bright, sunny, frosty and cold, but dry and happy looking outside! Perfect photo taking weather! If only I had not been DYING FROM THE FLU since early in the week. Actually, I wasn’t dying, it just sometimes felt that way. And I didn’t have the flu, just a cold. But a really nasty cold that just knocked me flat. I felt as crappy on Friday as I did on Tuesday, the first day I went home sick, so when the nice weather burst onto the scene tap dancing on Friday, it was all I could do to drag my ass off the sofa and give the dogs any exercise at all, much less get creative with the camera. I hardly took any photos at all :(
Pfeifer couldn’t believe it. And I can’t believe I still have Pfeifer! A dog this nice, and this easy, and I have had her for like 4 months. How come nobody wants to adopt my squirrelly girlie? I mean, lots of people have wanted to adopt her, but none of them have other dogs and Pfeif needs another dog at home. I think she would be miserable as an only dog, with nobody to torment, wrassle with or chase around. And she would make her person miserable, because she would probably pace around whining all the time if she was a single dog. Isn’t there anyone out there who needs a buddy for their buddy?
Anyway, in between crouching to the ground while all the snot IN THE ENTIRE WORLD pooled in my sinus cavities, temporarily blinding me, I managed to snap a few photos, just to preserve in pictoral format the memory of sunshine. We see it so rarely these days.
Part 3: On why Dexter is an EVIL GENIUS
Despite the fact that I was on the verge of death, I dragged myself to class on Thursday night. It might have been because I brought a mini poodle to a friend who was adopting her from my shelter. Or might have been because I am a martyr, or hopped up on cold medication and too doped out to realize what I was doing, or scared of The Sadist who is ALREADY PREPPING US FOR REGIONALS AND WILL NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER, SO GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME, SHEENA!!!
The whole drive over (one had on the wheel, one with tissues pressed to the faucet that used to be my nose) I begged silently “please let it be a Gamble class.” That would involve me mostly standing in one place and watching Dexter rocket around equipment without any kind of real direction.
Instead, to my horror, it was a Jumpers class. Ie – all running, all the time. C’est impossible, in my greatly diminished condition. Dexter and I can’t get a Jumpers run together at the best of times, and this was not the best of times.
Of course, because Dexter is Dexter, HE WAS PICTURE PERFECT THE ENTIRE CLASS. Precise, accurate, in tune, going everywhere I suggested he go, executing difficult sequences with flawless grace. There was actual applause from my classmates. Why? WHY DOES HE DO THIS TO ME?!?!
Because I can. HAI!
It may have been suggested that I try to catch malaria, or something terminal, just in time for Regionals, since clearly I handle better when I am knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door.
Stupid evil genius dog.
Part 4: On why I invite EVIL into my home.
So speaking of evil, I recently acquired an evil monkey that lives in my closet. Except he’s not a monkey, and I don’t have any closets in my house. But close enough. I guess I didn’t learn my lesson with the Malinois puppy, because this guy is kind of like a mini Malinois, if you squint.
Meet Carlos. He’s the pointy little thing in the background lasciviously pumping away at Spring’s hindquarters for all he’s worth.
Carlos is a Chihuahua Somethin’ Somethin’ mix that was surrendered to my shelter a while back. Unlike most little dogs that end up in the shelter, he didn’t even spend a couple of days turning into a tiny snarling demon dog in his kennel before settling in. He just made himself at home in his kennel and was bright and sunny and happy with everyone. Carlos liked everyone. Everyone liked Carlos. He was a no-brainer, and I adopted him out to a family of three adults pretty quickly.
Just as quickly, they brought him back. “He bites,” they said, “And we are terrified of him.”
Apparently, he is a resource guarder and he bit them if they tried to get him off the sofa. And he bit them if they tried to get him off the bed. And he bit them if he found a piece of paper on the floor and they tried to take it away from him. And they were tired of him biting them.
I’m pretty good at my job, the bulk of which involves evaluating dogs and matching them up with people who will make them happy. So I was pretty surprised to learn this about Carlos, who demonstrated no behaviour of that kind at the shelter. Then again, there are no beds, sofas or scraps of paper in the kennel.
So I brought Evil Monkey home last weekend and have been trying, unsuccessfully, ever since to get him to take a chunk out of me. No dice. He rarely gets on my sofa and when he does, he just wants to curl up in my lap. He’s not allowed in the bedroom at all, but no problem there – he puts himself to bed in his designated crate when he’s tired and sleeps there without a peep all night. I have taken everything under the sun out of his mouth, including EXTRA TASTY PAPER WITH PEANUT BUTTER CUP REMNANTS on it (my ‘eating healthier in 2013’ resolve has only been kind of successful) and he hasn’t so much as lifted a lip at me. I idly taught him a trading game ONCE and since then anytime I ask him if “I can have that?” he spits out whatever he has and waits for a cookie.
He also wrestles with Spring and Pfeifer, plays fetch with the big dogs, and comes when he is called (and, awesomely, he comes to both “Carlos” and “Evil Monkey.” Confusing, Pfeifer ALSO comes to “Evil Monkey). He is pretty damn awesome.
So … anyone looking for a 10 lbs Malinois?
I have to find him a home before he becomes a forever foster like Pfeifer!
Part 5: On why today will BLOW YOUR MIND
Five years ago today, my Big Red Dog went to the big sheep farm in the sky. Five years. Wow.
Three weeks before he died – with Horner’s Syndrome, so he’s all droopy and saggy in the face. But still so beautiful to me.
Five years ago I lived in a shoebox in the sky in downtown Vancouver. I didn’t know how I was going to get up in the morning and look at his empty food dish, or the Briggs shaped faded spot on the hardwood floor where he used to sleep all day. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to ever again be able to tousle his curly head and say “Who’s my Briggsy Bubba Border Collie?”
Briggs’ passing made room for other dogs who have become important in my life. I owe him a debt of gratitude I can never repay. I only wish I could have brought him out here with me, to our quiet home out in the Stix, so for once in his life he could have had his own Kingdom; a giant backyard to call his own, a sunny lawn to lay on while he watched the chickens. I wish I could have given it to him before he died. I am so glad I could give it to the dogs I have now.
On the other hand, Briggs and TWooie would have KILLED each other!
I raise a glass to your memory, Red Dog. The coolest dog I ever knew.