Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Walk Dogs Backwards

Stella asked how we manage to walk three dogs, backwards, while filming, as seen in the video on the previous post.

It's easy. I am a marvellous dog trainer. I wish I could share my secrets with you, but really it is an inborn talent. A gift. Like charisma, this can't be taught or learned, it just is.

the end-

Who's training whom????

[Sam I Am here. I've distracted the Dear Servant momentarily. (No great challenge there, bless her heart. As the humans say in these parts. It translates into: the woman hasn't got a single bone to chew on.) We let her think that she has some magical gift of whatever she was talking about. It makes her feel good about herself, and honestly she has so little to feel good about that every little bit helps.

Here is the real scoop. The Elders tell me that in the Olden Times they all walked together in fields and woods full of every sort of delectable vermin. They speak of fox, groundhogs, bunnies, evil squirrellies, and something magical called deer. Of course the Elders knew that the Servant was crippled, blind, and senseless, so they would allow her to tether herself to them so she wouldn't get lost. As clumsy as she was, even back in her relative youth, more often than not she would land with an 'ooph' on her bouncy belly whenever the vermin were sighted.

A large, gelatinous, human anchor. Screaming obscenities with her face in the mud. (Makes me giggle just a little bit to think of it. Silly human.)

Here and now we walk in this city. No fields, unless she drives us to the Kennel Club. No fox, no groundhogs, no magical deer. (I sure would like to chase one of those one day; they sound great!) Plenty of Evil City Squirrellies who show no respect, Evil C.A.T.s who are V.I.L.E., loose dogs who are danger-danger-dangerous, and lots of cars and trucks.

She doesn't walk us all at once any more. She makes us take Turns. I get two turns because I have taken my Great Uncle Giacomino's place and she can't stand to be away from me for a minute and a half. When it's not our Turn we wait in our Dog Room and get a biscuit and howl our heads off to let her know how stinky not-our- Turns are.

It's taken us eight years, but we finally trained her. She used to (close your ears, Dogs, this is for the humans only) jerk on our necks and froth at the mouth and yell something which made no sense like nonobaddogs or some such unintelligible nonsense. Of course we payed absolutely NO attention to this demonstration of human stupidity; we barked louder and pulled harder. REALLY! I mean. She's not a bad human, but, sigh, she is a human.

One day she had a treat in her pocket. We were dutifully alerting her to the danger of a horrid, rabid, stinkypoopbutt C.A.T. at the top of our lungs and she was getting ready to behave badly. I said, "Hey Idiot Servant! You have treats in your pocket. They might be more interesting than that ol' stinkypoopbutt C.A.T."

She didn't get it (no surprise) so I bumped her pocket with my wonderful long skinny nose.

HELLO!!! LIGHTBULB!!! The human thinks she has a GREAT IDEA!!! Don't you just love them? So now our walks are a treat a minute. We don't pull her? We get a treat. We don't bark our heads off? We get more treats. Treats treats treats!!!

Yah, life is good. We can still bark our heads off at anything we want when we're in our Yard. Unless she's near the Flying Object Of Doom (she calls it the plastic watering can). Then we just run to her instead, and... GET TREATS!!! They are so easy to train if you are consistent and get on their level.

goose your humans-

Sam I Am]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh Happy Happy

It is Mama Pajama's and Fat Charlie's thirteenth birthday. Along with Sammy's mom Jessie, who lives in Maryland.

I'm going to go sit on the porch with them.

Steve Surfman photo

Laurie Erickson photo

Laurie Erickson photo

please hug your sweet old hounds

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back Again

We walked this morning. All the way to the river.

Our walks are not the regular, every day, set your clocks by them occurrence that they once were. ('Once' meaning daily since 1992, except for a brief period when my first Whippet, Gracious, was too old and infirm to walk. I couldn't bear to go without her so nobody went. What? Oh yes, I am a wuss. I have no delusions.)

Since I've returned to work, our walks are all hit or missy. On work days I leave the house at 6:40 AM - my commute is all of 24 blocks - and I get home somewhere around 7:45 to 8:45 PM.

You remember. I drag my 56 year old sorry self home to something delicious that Bill has prepared and eight dogs who are beyond ecstatic that I finally found my way home. A younger version of me might go for a walk before or after work. This version of me can barely make it through dinner and up to bed. And in fact if I've worked two days in a row, we're lucky if I get out of bed by 5 pm the next day (not counting the 42 times I trudge downstairs to let a dog out/in/out/inout).

But today, Bill walked Luciano and Delia. I walked Mama Pajama, Fat Charlie, and Easy around their one block. We dawdle, we sniff, we stop to rest, they pee and pee and poop, poop, poop. Day after tomorrow, Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie will be thirteen. Easy's tumor has grown to alarming proportions and he is quite precious, I fear. He feels fine - glorious in fact - but I see danger signs; it claws at me.

So they can dawdle all they please.

Then Sam I Am, Swede William, and Lindy Loo (who are having a full blown, old fashioned, deep throated in three part harmony howl from their crates in the dog room when the seniors and I return) and I head out. There is air moving, and a bit of cloud cover. But it's godawful hot.

By one of the funeral homes (we pass two on the way to the river) a mocking bird is taking its parental duties seriously. It dive bombs Sammy from behind. "What the heck?" says Saint Sam. Then it goes after me. I flail my (full, thank you) poop bags around my crown. I have a flashback to an eight year old me:

We were spending the summer in New Orleans; my father doing post grad studies at Tulane. I went to a day camp. Either my parents were ridiculously irresponsible, or it was a different world. I would walk the ten blocks to camp alone. I told my mother that a bird was attacking me every morning.

I did possess an active imagination, and my mother thought I just didn't want to walk alone, I suppose. She ignored me. One morning I started to cry. I was afraid. I said the bird had made me bleed. My mother looked at my scalp and lo and behold there was a chunk of skin missing and a bigger bald spot. We didn't have mocking birds in Massachusetts. She walked with me that morning. Damn bird nearly pecked her eye out. She found a different route for me to walk.

Today's mocking bird nearly proves Darwin's theory when it launches a third, and frontal, attack on Lindy Loo. She got a piece of it, and if it hadn't been for her leash, it would have been breakfast. The adult in me was relieved that some baby mocking birds in Paducah still have their parent. The eight year old... The words "chortled" and "nanny nanny boo boo" and "foot stomping happy dance Lindy Loo you GO girl" come to mind, I'm not sure why.

I'm working form 11 to 3 today. One of the nurses needed today off, and the only way she could get coverage was to get 3 nurses to work four hours each. If she had asked me first, I would have worked the whole day for her. Tomorrow I work all day.

And that's that.

hug your hounds

Saturday, June 26, 2010


[She sneaks up on the blog. Eyelids straining ever more widely open, like she's trying to see better. Futile, that: it's pitch dark. Bug eyed. Her heart is just a'pounding. Great, now she's fresh out of spit. She's thinking twice...]

Well, if Dolly Parton can sing "Stairway to Heaven". (Playing on my local NPR Saturday morning station. It's pretty. Acoustic banjo, she whisper-sings ala Dolly, "And the forest will echo with laughter.")

Lower those expectations. If I'm going to write this blog, it's got to change. I've overscheduled myself into a deep dark corner. I've made friends in blogland. People I care about. Writing a blog isn't about only the time it takes to write; it's about visiting and commenting on other blogs. That takes hours. Literal hours.

I ain't got 'em anymore.

And there's that Temptress, Facebook. I can check in and check my friends out in minutes. The bitch.

When I started this blog, it was meant to entertain. Those of you that sent me notes in the months this blog lay fallow, saying kind things and encouraging me to write - that meant a lot to me. Thank you.

I got stuck. Tired and stuck. Not that I wasn't doing fun stuff. I just ran out of oomph to write about it.

And here's the truth: I need to write about my sister who died of ovarian cancer, and I haven't been able to. And since I haven't been able to write that, I just haven't been able to write.

I'll do that. And Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie and Sam's mom Jessie in Maryland are going to be 13 years old on the 29th. I'm just not promising to be entertaining anymore. I'm going to write for myself. I also can't promise to visit everyone else's blog. I'll be that kind of blogger, yuck.

I need to write the way I need to breathe.

hug your hounds