Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The End

He made it all the way home before he cried.
The last he saw her, she was standing in the little cell at the animal shelter, trembling.
It is an image that will be burned into his memory for the rest of his life.
He knew it would be painful, and it is.
Though not as painful as his last loss.

And the circumstances were different this time.
This time, he made the decision about when and why, not some unplanned, unknown circumstance.
But it is still painful.

He had to steel himself to go through with the task.
It is not something he did easily.
He felt like a zombi as he delivered his dog to the shelter man, trying not to think about what he was doing, emotionally, to himself and to his dog.
He just plowed ahead and did it.
It had to be done.

He knows that the pain will last for a while.
And there will be the emptiness in the yard and house.
The silence, where other sounds used to be.
No more barking in the night, or scratching on the back door.
Now it will be quiet.
Quiet even when he wished there was some sounds.
It will be quiet now.
Always quiet.
Silence is the sound sadness makes.

The sad thing is, his dog trusted him.
After all her pain in her early years, she recognized quickly that this place was different.
She had found a home where she was loved and understood.

She opened herself to him, as much as an animal can.
He was her Alpha.
He provided the food, the prime task of an Alpha.
It was a task he took seriously, and spoiled her with special additions to her bland diet – eggs, oatmeal, meat, leftovers.
It was not something that she really could appreciate beyond the moment of enjoyment.
This, because dogs do not do comparative thinking.

And for the time they were together, he gave as much of himself to her as he could.
He loved her and gave her as much Tender Loving Care as he could, given the constraints of his life/schedule.
And she responded in the only way an animal can – she wanted to be around him as much as she could.
And she exercised her instincts to warn and protect him from outside threats real and imagined (or at least, not understood).

The good news is animals do not do comparative thinking.
They live in the moment.
But they do develop expectations about how “things” will go from day to day.
They get used to the daily routine – even if each day has no repeated routine.
So, as shocking as another trip to another kennel is for her, she will adapt.
And she will forgive him.
Because she does not know how to hold a grudge or seek revenge.
She will accept her new life.
She will deal with the changes.

Perhaps she will find another good home.
At worst, she will be put to sleep.
That is the good news.
After all, she is just a dog.

The bad news is he feels like he has failed another person.
Another person who trusted him.
Another person who depended on him.
And he has.
This is like getting a divorce.
Again.

For almost the same reasons.
Almost.
Then, it was because he did not know how to continue to deal with the situation he was faced with.
After years of no change and no knowledge of how the assist in a change, he gave up trying.
So, he ended it.

This time, he knew how to deal with the issues, but also knew he could not continue to do so.
It was taking too much out of him.
Too much time.
Too much energy.
Actually it was his job that was taking all the time and energy, but of the two elements, the job was more important than the pet.
Priorities force us to make some very difficult decisions sometimes.
This was one of those times.

So he now must live with the feeling that he has betrayed the trust of a simple animal.
One who trusted him to be different from her past owners.
One who cared and would be her friend.
And it was so for a few months.
Then things changed.
And now he must live with this guilt of betrayal for the rest of his life.

So this is yet another decision that he will regret the rest of his life.
Actually, he regrets that he ever gave into his heart and adopted this second dog.
Better to have never made a commitment than to make one and break it.
So, along with the emotional pain, is the knowledge of yet another broken promise in his life.
So many broken promises.
So many....

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Life Changes

After four months of searching I have been blessed with a job.
It is not an ideal position but it will supply my needs.
I knew when I pressed the Send button that there was the risk of being hired in this less-than-ideal job.
But the situation worse than having a less-than-ideal job is no job at all.
And I have had six months of that.
So here I am.

I am working on my Philippians 4:12 skills (along with learning the details of my new job).
To prevent you from having to look it up, it goes like this......

Philippians 4:12
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

What is the job, you ask?
I am a janitor, tasked with cleaning a part of one of the Huntsville city high schools.
My shift is from 3 PM until 11:30 PM.
Most of us get finished with our assigned area by 9 PM.
Sometimes sooner, sometimes later.
When we complete our work, we sit in the cafeteria and wait for our leader to dismiss us.
Sometimes that is earlier and sometimes it is 11:30.
But while we are working, we are moving around – emptying the trash, sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning toilets, cleaning windows and mirrors.

I am the only white-skinned person on the crew.
I am also the oldest person on the crew.

One good thing about his job is that it is harassment-free.
Our leed person leaves us alone to do our work.
I want Miss. Wanda to come by to inspect my work to be sure that I am doing my job correctly.
And she does.
But she does not stand over me.
I like that.
I get nervous when someone is standing by, looking over my shoulder.

As I expected, this job is very taxing on me, physically.
While the work is not hard, as I count hard, I am constantly busy and moving around.
it makes me go home very tired every evening.
Because I cannot do as much as I used to do, or for as long as I used to do, I have had to re-arrange my physical activities.

I have always hated second shift because of the disruption it causes in my daily life.
This job is no exception.
Here are some of my life changes.....

No more morning weight workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
No more morning walks around the neighborhood on Tuesday and Thursday.
No more running on Saturday morning.
I can no longer attend church on Wednesday evenings.
I can no longer attend the meetings of my neighborhood association, neighborhood council, or community watch group.
I have not had a regular dinner until tonight (Saturday) since I started last Tuesday (Monday was a holiday and my last regular dinner).
You cannot cook a steak and prepare a salad at work.
So I eat two lunches, one at lunch time, and one at work.
Just walking the dog each morning is less enjoyable than it was before.

The pay is just slightly above minimum wage.
But even at this wage, it will be enough to supply my needs.
Even if they start adjusting our pay to actual hours worked instead of padding the timesheets like they are now.
The good part of this job is that it is monday through friday.
I have my weekends off.

There is talk of some occasional overtime on weekends but I will steadfastly resist such activities.
There are people on the crew who want more hours (= more money) that I will gladly give my extra time to.

So, am I happy?
Sort of.

Do I hate my job?
No.
Hate is too strong a word.

Would I rather be doing something else?
Yes, but it depends on what the other something is.
There are other jobs around that are harder than this one.
With more difficult people to work with.

I am still looking at Help Wanted ads.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Consequences


Patty is miffed at me today.
She has good reason to be – sort of.
Let me explain.

Last night, Patty awoke from her evening nap at 12:30 AM, came to my bed to be let outside.
I drowsily complied and went back to bed.
We had a pretty good rain yesterday afternoon and the ground was damp.
I was in the bed but five minutes when Patty began to bark.
This was not her usual announcement barks – deep, slow, grouped in fours or fives.
These barks were quick and short, grouped in threes or fours.
I let this go on for a about five minutes then reluctantly decided to investigate.

Outside, I find Patty with her nose under my utility shed and her butt in the air, tail in full wag.
Evidently, she has found some critter under the shed – perhaps a cat or raccoon.
Patty is running from side to side of the building, furiously digging in the nice soft clay to get closer to her prey.
Her nice white fur, from her elbows down, is a nice dark brown.
This can be seen even in the moonlight.

I ask her to stop but she pays me no mind, totally absorbed in the nocturnal hunt.
I dread what she will look like when she is done with her adventure, and what I must do to accommodate her dirty state.
I went back to bed, after locking the back door, so she could not reenter the house, disturbed by what was going on in my back yard.

What do I do?
Lock her out?
Yes.
Give her a bath?
Certainly, but when?
Outside, with the water hose, given her muddy state? (I had just mopped the floor yesterday because of another digging session by the quad-paw.)
But I know she would not like that and would be hard to keep still given that she would have the whole back yard to avoid me.
Or a bath in the tub – the usual method?
And when?
When we first wake up?
Before breakfast?
After breakfast but before her walk?
It might help her dry out to do it then.
Or give her a bath after her walk, when she is tired?
Or...
My mind was a whirl.
Meanwhile, Patty continued to bark.
After another 15 minutes or so of non-sleep I got up again and went out into the back yard.

Patty was more responsive to my presence this time. (a good sign).
She stopped barking and came over to me.
She was indeed muddy.
And happy to have something to do.
She seemed proud of herself.

At that point, the critter apparently escaped from under the shed and ran under my rear fence.
Patty gave chase but was too late for a capture.
After sticking her nose under the back fence (and rubbing her chest in more brown dirt/mud), she returned to me (standing on the concrete patio) for affirmation.
I complimented her on her keen senses and advised her to stop barking (which at this point was all but unnecessary – she had stopped barking on her own.)
I advised her to go to sleep, which she seemed to obey by laying down in the grass, and I went back to my bed.

I lay in the dark, my mind spinning at 10k rpm, regarding what to do with my mud-ball dog.
After ten minutes or so, I turned on the light and began to read my History of the Christian Church, Volume 2. After about 30 minutes, I was ready to try darkness and Alpha brain waves again.
I slept.

So this is what happened Friday morning and why Patty is ill with me.
I woke up at – correction – I GOT up at 5:50 AM (yes, I slept in...).
Shaved and did my usual Friday weight workout.
I fed Patty her dog food (no embellishments) outside.
I fixed my breakfast, ate it, and cleaned the dishes.
Then got myself ready for our usual dog-man walk.

I went outside, put the leash around Patty's neck (she is getting better at holding still while I install her chain collar around her neck), and off we went.
We did our usual walk, but I had a plan....
After about 50 minutes we were home again.
I left patty in the dining room while I prepared the bathroom for a doggy bath.
I removed her collars and gently grabbing the skin of her neck, guided her into the bathroom (which she does not like for this very reason).
I lifted her into the tub and began the soaking of her very substantial fur.

I did my best to clean her muddy legs, paws, chest, and tummy.
Patty tolerated my ministrations as best she could, but it was clear she wanted OUT.
Finally, I was done.
She was glad and did not take much urging to climb out of the tub on to the drying matt.
After a few shakes and towel rubs she was free to go hide in her place of choice.
It was at this point that I got The Look from my dog.

A mixture of betrayal and disappointment in her eyes.
And body language that said I am ready to run from you again if you have any further plans for me.
But I was mostly done.

I went to the store to buy our weekly food, leaving Patty inside to air-dry her remaining dampness.

We are slowly returning to our previous levels of cordiality.

Monday, July 30, 2012

More On The Theory Of Dog Walking

Walking Patty the dog is an interesting experience.
It also allows me to ponder the differences between Patty and my previous, short-lived dog, Sally.

First, the basics...
For me, walking the dog is all about the dog.
It provides exercise for the animal, helps her get used to her neighborhood, meet other people and animals, and see other things outside of her fenced-in plot of dirt.
For the most part, I let my dog choose which path/street/direction to go.
I don't care (with qualifications).
I only intervene when I have to, for the safety of the dog or simple convenience (meaning that our presence in/near a situation ahead may cause a disruption that will be bothersome to someone else).
I don't care if she stops and sniffs every other mailbox post, etc.
That is why we are out there.
I watch the time and try to keep our jaunts to about an hour, mostly because I am a scheduled kind of guy.

When I lived in the country, Woof, my big yard dog was free to roam the fields at will.
He trotted a path around the neighborhood every morning just after sunrise, often with a friend of his from next door.
I observed that the normal pace for a morning explore was a brisk trot with lots of stops to sniff.
I guessed that this was the equivalent to the wolves going on a hunt.
After about an hour, Woof would come home, plop in the driveway and be on station for the rest of the day to guard and protect his two-legged charges.

I did not take Woof for walks because he did not need any.
If the two-leggers did go for a walk, he came along as a part of the family, but he knew this walk was not for his benefit.
Living in the city is different.
Dogs need to be walked for several reasons.
Now to my observations....

Sally was a strutter.
She was proud to be a growing big white doggy and when she walked along the street or sidewalk, you could hear her front paws slap the pavement.
Patty is less vigorous.

Sally liked to be my leader/hunter/protector and she liked to pull me along.
To the point that I had to literally brace myself to hold her back when she wanted to examine something out of leash distance.
I was constantly having to make her stop pulling.

Patty is less vigorous.
She likes a slight pressure on her neck as we walk, but she is constantly trying to adjust to my pace.
Seldom will she test the tensile strength of her nylon tether.
Often, I have to keep a slight tension on her leash because she is walking very close to me.
If I did not keep this gentle pressure in her string, the chain collar would just fall open.

In both cases, I am less intolerant of being dragged along on the journey because I understand that the normal pace of a dog on his/her morning walk is a trot.
They are excited to get out and see/smell who has been around overnight.
This is not an urgent pace, but it is clearly exciting to them.
It is important business that they must be about.
It is what they must do.
I am less excited about this task, so I am less enthused.
But I try to go along with the program because I understand the drill, to some extent.

Still, being dragged along the sidewalk with 74 pounds of tension on the line can be tiring and bothersome, so I do try to moderate it occasionally.
I believe Sally would have been perfectly happy to be pulling me along in a Radio Flyer, if we had one.
Patty, once reminded, does try to moderate her pace.
She is a very compliant dog.
We can likely tally some of Sally's exuberance to her youth.
She may have settled down had she been allowed to live long enough.

Sally was the explorer of the two dogs.
Once she got used to one path, a process that took just two or three trips, she was ready to blaze a new trail.
She took me all over the neighborhood.
She never took the same path two day in a row.

And she wanted to sniff both sides of a road.
Everything needed to be checked.

Patty is 180.
I let her choose the direction of our walk the first morning and we basically walk the same course every morning.
Sometimes she explores the church grounds that is on our route (like yesterday) and sometimes she ignores it (like today).
But these are minor variations to a very predictable pattern.
And she is content to stay on the sidewalk.
Rarely will she seek to sniff something across the street.

Only today, did she seek to turn and go down a street she has never traveled.
This path actually led to two other streets she has never been on.
True to her form, Patty stayed on one side of the street and did not zig-zag from side to side very much.

We shall see if this breaks her walking pattern.
These are streets that Sally knew well.

Sally liked to run.
When she got excited (like when greeting another dog), she wanted to run to burn off the energy such situations generated in her.
Being a runner, I always complied.
One reason was because I know that Great Pyrenees dogs are not long distance runners.
They will lumber along for a few hundred feet, then slow to a walk.
Three or four sessions like this during an hour walk and they are done for the day.
This may have been a symptom of Sally's youth that would have diminished with time.
We will never know.

Patty trots.
Period.
She stops and assesses her item of interest for several seconds.
Sometimes a full minute.
Then walks on.
Only occasionally will Patty trot and even more rarely will she run.
And then, only a few dozen yards.

Sally did all of her biological business in her yard.
While on a walk, she seemed to not care if other animals knew who she was or where she had been.
So, she seldom left any momentos for the other animals to sniff.

Patty is the opposite.
She saves her liquid and semi-solid gifts for the neighbors yards.
So I must attend to our walks with the appropriate baggage.
Patty will squat 20 or so times on our walks.
And provide two bags worth of other material along the way.
From my observations, Patty is a very healthy dog.
I am not sure why it is so important for Patty to mark her path so often.

I am sure there are more differences between these two interesting creatures, but I have run out of items for today.
.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Progress of Patty the Pooch


Patty is a sweet, smart dog.
It is difficult to believe that she was mistreated before I found her.
She responds to her new name (Patty) without any special training on my part.
When she misbehaves (mainly trashcan diving) she acts contrite just from my voice inflections.
She has never yet messed in the house.
And Patty does not play with my dirty clothes. (like my former fuzzy friend did...)

Around food she is mostly well-behaved.
She did steal something off the dining table once when left unattended.
This may have been because she did not know the rules as much as being a sneak.
Most of the time, she just sniffs and looks and licks her lips.
We will see how she does in this area.

Early on she was nervous about fast hand movements, but that seems to be mostly gone.
Occasionally, she will shy away from a fast hand movement, especially by strangers.

Her initial resistance to being on a leash is nearly all gone.
She does well 99 percent of the time and only occasionally tries to pull away.
Patty is learning to negotiate with me on pace and direction during our walks.

My philosophy is that walking a dog is for the benefit of the dog, not the human.
It is not a victory lap to show off my trophy animal for all the neighbors to admire.
It is to exercise the dog and allow her to get used to her area.
So some of the pace and direction of the walk should be left up to the dog.
My overrides to her decisions are mainly for her safety or a time constraint.

Early on, there was some resistance to having a collar around her neck.
But that went away the second day I had her.
Now she has a collar on all the time since then (except for her bath).

Today, I started using a chain choke collar for her walk, - as I did with Sally - to see how she would respond.
She did fine.
Zero resistance to having a new, heavier piece of hardware around her neck, and she responded well to the new feel.
As with Sally, I use it only for walks.
Sally liked to pull me along, apparently from the need to be my guide through the neighborhood.
Patty is more relaxed.
She will spend most of a walk with a loose leash at my side or just ahead of me.

My goal with the choke collar is to keep it loose most of the time, with just a small amount of tension on it so she knows I'm there.
If she needs some guidance, then more tension can be applied – typically, very little is needed and only for two or three seconds.
If more urgent or aggressive guidance is required, the choke function is there to mimic the teeth of an Alpha pack leader administering discipline.
But the need for this last application is rare.

Often times, Patty will respond at just a quiet word from me.
She is learning my command, “wait”.
Which means to stop at the end of a sidewalk before walking into the street.
The command involves a slight tug on the leash to let her know the needs to stop.
Sally was learning it, too.
Patty is already tuned into this command.

She is doing well with my other commands, “this way” (some other direction than the one she is going), and “be with me” (= “heel”).
As you can see, I do not do traditional dog commands.
I just talk to them like I talk to peoples.
They get it. (the dogs....)

My version of the traditional command, “come” is “come here”.
We are still working on this one.
There is no real problem here, I just have not spent much time training Patty.
Mainly because she is so smart and well-behaved.
We have not spent any time on “sit”, “stay”, or “lay down”, yet.
Interestingly, I have told her to lay down on two occasions and she laid down.
I don't know if she really understood the command or if she was just lucky.
I was impressed, nonetheless.

The summary of all of this is that Patty has not been as difficult to adjust to (and seemingly, vice versa) as I was expecting.
I do not know what her former life was like, but she seems to be doing just fine here.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Patty - Post op

Patty had her internal female parts modified Thursday.
I delivered her a 7 AM, per instructions, and picked her up at 4 PM that afternoon.

She was barely able to walk at pick-up time.
I had to help her into the car.
Once home, she had no appetite not even for water.
She wanted to stay outside even though it was very hot (100), I thought she would be more comfortable inside.
I prevailed because she was in no shape to argue.
Bad idea.

She got sick and barfed on the gym room carpet. (a common reaction to anesthesia, I understand)
So I let her out for a while.
After a couple of hours she requested to come inside and I accommodated her.
She slept all night in her two favorite locations - next to my bed against the wall, with her head on the A/C vent, or, in the dining room on the cool vinyl floor, in front of her little fan.

Friday morning Patty was better but in obvious pain/discomfort.
She spent the morning going from place to place in the house, trying to find a comfortable place/position.
She was sleep for a while in each spot then have to get up and find another spot.
She even went to places she has never slept before - head under my bed, under my keyboard, in the gym room, in the back storage/workshop room.

Sometime at mid-morning Patty drank some water.
This was a good sign as she had gone over 24 hours with out drinking anything.
When she woke up from her noon nap, she nibbled at her food.
More good.
And when I scratched her, her tail responded with more enthusiasm.

By Friday evening, Patty was eating small snacks every couple of hours.
I responded by giving her some roast turkey bits along with her dry dog food.

Saturday morning Patty wanted out at 4:30 AM - her usual time.
I let her go out and went back to bed for few minutes before I needed to get up for my weekly run.

THE RUN

I felt tired Saturday morning.
I knew that I would break no records during this mornings jog but that was of little concern to me.
The big deal was to finish the whole distance with no stops or injuries.
That goal was accomplished, but not without some challenges.
First, my tiredness wanted part of me to whine about how hard this was.
The firm, consistant answer to that was "shut up and run".
And run we did, even though I was forced into Level 3 breathing for the last third of the party.

Second, was my left leg.
It had some muscle/nerve/connection problem that made each step chirp some undefined complaint.
It felt like a neurological issue except that there was some low-level pain in there also.
Every time I moved my leg forward to take the next step, there was a vague pain around my Sartorius muscle upper connection. (the muscle that lifts the leg forward toward the body.)
Or some place near there.
And as I placed my foot and the weight of my body transfered to my left leg, my thigh muscles acted like they did not want to support my weight.
A precursor to my left leg collapsing.
Not good.
That is the bad news.

The good news is that I finished my four-mile run with no problems.
No stopping.
No collapsing.
No broken parts.
Woo hoo.

Patty - Day 3 Post Op

Patty was much better today.
Her tail was up to at least 90% full wag.
She was hungry and more playful/responsive.
I cooked her an egg to go with her dog food, for breakfast.
She went outside a few times and barked a few times (her first utterances since being sliced upon).
She slept more comfortably and could not get enough food.
All good signs.

The day was not without its troubles.
Patty trangressed the Tradition of the Elders - twice - this afternoon.
She dove into the kitchen trash can and stole the egg shells from this mornings breakfast.
For this, she was banished to the back yard.

Thirty minutes later, she fished something else out of the same can to sniff/lick/taste.
Out to the back yard she went again.

When I invited her back inside a few minutes later, she refused.
She wanted to enjoy the 104 degree heat.
She would show me.

After about an hour, she requested entry to the coolatorium.
Which I granted.
It appears we are still friends.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Patty n Me - Day 2

We slept better last night - about 6 hours.
She spent the night in the narrow (24 inch)space between my bed and the wall.
She seemed to do a lot less scratching during the night.

I put her out when I went running at 5:30.
She was a bit stressed but hopeful.
When I returned an hour or so later, Patty was glad to see me (duh).

THE RUN

The run itself was a total success (again - I am spoiled with blessings)
Because of my lack of sleep, I felt tired from the time we woke up at 4:30 AM.
I let Patty out but she seemed to have no urgency in her.
She came in and I went back to bed hoping to doze off for a little while before my "official" wake up time of 5 AM.
The time came too soon and I was not ready.
I would have slept-in another half hour but I wanted to get done what I planned to do.
So I got up and began the day.

From my first steps on the course I could feel the tiredness in me. (does that make sense? Do we "feel" what is not in us or just what remains?)
But my strategy was, as always, do what I can do.
So I did.

The session really did not go that badly.
The long uphill was a challenge but not significantly more than other times.
In fact, I did better than I have at other times (faster breathing, etc)
On the return loop a part of me flirted with the thought of "stop and walk for a minute or two".
Ego, Runner, Coach, and Running Central, all said "no" to that idea.
Tired equals slower, not, stop and walk.
So I finished my weekly four-mile loop in good shape. (no pains, no injuries, no stops)

PATTY

After a shower, we had breakfast together and she did not eat all I gave her.
That brought flashbacks of dark events 8 weeks ago.
She was also very calm/sleepy lying on the kitchen floor on her side.
More concern.
But my worries were unfounded, it seems.

I ate my eggs and let her lick the plate.
She liked that and was obviously surprised.
While I washed the dishes, Patty took turns laying on the cool kitchen
floor and playing with her new tennis ball in the back room.

Then, after doing the dishes, I let her out in the backyard again.
This time, the neighbor dogs were out and started to yap.
Patty seemed to want to play with them (a first in my seeing).
She was galloping around the yard when I left her.
I went food shopping (including a 50 p bag of dog food...)

When I returned, she was lying in the shade next to the fence and did
not hear me.
I unloaded the car then let fur-face in.
After everything was put away, I decided to take her for a short walk
to do some more leash training.

The walk was a slow affair.
I had to let her test/examine every new bark and smell and sound.
And she has to learn to come around each telephone pole and mailbox on
my side (as Sally did so amazingly).
We went around the smallest, nearest block, as I had planned.
I did not intend for this to be an extended session.
She needs to get used to a lot of stuff - me, the leash, the noises,
dogs, smells of the neighborhood, etc.
It just will take some time.

A highlight of our walk was when she allowed a neighbor lady to pet her.
Patty was VERY cautious at first, but within two or three minutes,
scratches were being received.
The lady has a rescue dog, as well, so she knows the drill.

Tomorrow will be a test because I will be gone for almost four hours at church.
Patty may not know how long because she cannot read a clock.

Interesting factoid - Patty came to the shelter the same week Sally
died - four days apart.

Friday, June 22, 2012

THE FIRST NIGHT WITH PATTY

I don't know if this is going to work.

My nights sleep amounted to about three or four hours.
Hers must have been about the same.
At midnight she seemed like she wanted to play.
Midnight is not my play time.

She loves my attention. (duh).
She does not lick me - not face, not hands - she nuzzles with her
nose. (using her nose, she wiggled it into my relaxed hand and moved
my fingers so that I would scratch her)
She does not jump up on me, but does lift her front paw to get my attention.
She has laid down on her side/back and allowed me to rub her chest and
tummy - which she seems to LOVE.
She seems a bit hyper at times and when I rub her tummy, I do it very
slowly, which seems to calm her.
She is not as ticklish as Sally - very little hind leg kicking when I
pet various parts.


Patty is a sweet dog.
But....
She has some issues.

1 - she cannot stand to be away from me.
If I leave her alone in the back yard for longer than five minutes,
she tries to get out.
I have seen her trying to climb over my low gate (to go where?)

2 - she is hot natured.
She pants like a freight train (steam).
All night.
I fixed a little fan for her in the dining room and she laid in front
of it for a few minutes off and on, but she preferred to sleep next to
my bed.
I turned on the ceiling fan for us, which, no doubt, helped a little.

3 - She has allergies.
Evidently, Patty is allergic to my carpet. (or something....)
She spent the night gnawing and scratching herself.
At first I thought it was left-over fleas but her fur is pure white
down to her pink and tan skin.
I have not seen a single flea on her.
When she is in the kitchen for a while or outside, she does not scratch as much.

It occurred to me this morning that Patty may be an "Inside" dog.

Sally was an outside dog from her third day with me as a puppy.
She liked being inside with me, but she was happy to play and sleep in
the backyard all day and night, hot, cold, rain, snow, whatever, with just visits inside at meal time.
This was changing (spending more time inside as she matured), but I
think she would have always preferred to be outside most of the time.

Patty is very well behaved inside.
She does not try to climb on the furniture/bed, she does not try to
play with my clothes, she has not wet or plopped in the house (yet).

More later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Testing The Waters For A New Dog

No, I have not died.
Just busy, and not much to say.

What follows is my report to my sister on my visit to a rescue kennel to inquire about a Great Pyrenees dog.
…...................................

I just got back from the SPCA Kennel in Pisgah, Alabama.
It is about 80 miles away.
I met "Perl". (her name given by the kennel).
I went into her "cage" and sat on the floor by the gate, Perl stayed
outside in her little area.
She wagged her tail tentatively but would not come closer than about 12 feet.
She has a very raspy bark, but did not bark very much.
The manager/lady gave me some doggy snacks to use to entice Perl to
come nearer to me.
I sat there for about an hour and she (the dog) would come no closer
to me than about three feet, and then only to quietly pick up the
treat and take it outside to eat it.

Finally, I gave up.
The dog was obviously sweet and wanted to engage, but was scared or
shy and was uncomfortable around me/stranger/male(?).
If I lived closer and could come over every day or so for a week, I
felt that we could gradually bond, but that was not possible with the
distance as it is.

The manager offered to bring the dog into the lobby.
I agreed.
She said I would have to help her carry the big dog through the rear
kennel area to the lobby.
I agreed (suspicious that the dog, who did not want to engage me alone
would allow me to touch her and carry her hind end).
But the dog allowed us to pick her up and carry her into the lobby
with no problems.

Once she was in the lobby she was a different dog.
Her tail wagged off and on, she sniffed around a bit (there were
several cats in cages in there).
The lady broke out some kind of doggy snack that looked like a baby
hot dog. (different from what she gave me in the kennel)
She fed Perl a couple of bites then she gave it to me and I broke off
a bite and offered it to the dog.
She ate it out of my hand immediately.

Soon, Perl was allowing me to pet her (gently) all over her. (head,
ears, neck, chest, back, hips, etc)
She had a serious case of fleas, but was otherwise in good shape.
She does NOT like a leash and wants to pull away when one gets put on her.
But Perl was well behaved even when distressed.
She reminds me of Sally in her coloring.
I told the lady that I wanted to think about whether to take her or not.

In anticipation of a possible transfer, the lady took Perl into the
washing area to give her a bath (she needed it...)
Just before she took the dog into the wash area, Perl was standing
next to me, with her head pressing against the side of my leg,
allowing me scratch her head and ears. (was this a "bond"?)
While the lady sprayed the shampoo on the dog, she stood quietly in the wash area,
enduring her bath.

I am scared to take this animal.
I am not sure why.
It is clear that she needs some training and some time to adjust from
a bad beginning, but she is clearly a sweet animal with a calm
disposition.
I argue with myself - what's not to like?
All we need is some time.

As much as I wanted to treat Sally right, I feel a double
responsibility to rehabilitate "Perl" if I were to adopt her.
We do not know all that she went through as a puppy other than she was starved.
At the best, she was just neglected.
She has no scars to indicate any worse treatment.
This weighs on me - irrationally, I suspect.
The good news is, dogs don't expect much others.
…..................................

Stay tuned....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Status Revision


The Run

The run this morning was interesting.
I did not get as winded as I have the last two sessions – meaning going into level three breathing in the first half mile.
….....................
Level 1 = normal, every-day breathing rhythm – a breath every two or three seconds.
Level 2 = preferred running breathing rate of one in and out cycle every four steps.
Level 3 = accelerated breathing rate of one in and out every three steps.
Level 4 = all out panting reserved for emergencies, and short end-of-race sprints of one minute or less.
…........................
I know you all wanted to know that.

So today I was able to hold my breathing to a more comfortable rate which MAY mean that I was stronger that the last two weeks.
Assuming this is so, I do not know why it is so.
I have not felt sick or “weak”.
The previous two weeks performance MAY have been an Indication of the stress I was feeling because of 1) the death of my dog, and/or 2) looking for a job.
While I was not conscious of any exceptional stress during that time, it was there.
Which begs the question, Why was this session any different/better?
To which I reply, I don't know.

My dog is still dead and I am still unemployed.
Starting a new job is even more stressful than being unemployed, methinks.
So, why the improved performance?
I don't know.

There is one possible motivator – the Cotton Row race is this coming monday.
While that could easily be intimidating to me, it is also exciting.
I have been watching my diet all this past week, cutting down on my carb intake to diminish my abdominal flab a bit.
Even though my practice course today does not cover any of the roads that the 5K race will cover on Monday, I still thought about the race today.
The other good news is, no body parts squawked today.
There were a few minor mumblings from left foot, knee and hip in the first quarter mile, but all of these hushed up as we all got warmed up.

Speaking of warmed up – weather was mid-60s and a bit humid.
While it is not “ideal” running weather, I prefer it to 15 degrees with a 20 mph head-wind and sleet falling on me in the dark.
So I would rather sweat than have freezing nose/hands/ears/toes.

ON THE DOG FRONT

What is a dog front?
Never mind.
I have a method for dealing with my passions/desires sometimes.
If I find myself wanting something for a long enough period of time, I get tired of arguing with myself about it.
I may make a list of the pros and cons of such a purchase/project, or I may write a scenario of my life with the desired object/circumstance.
And sometimes I take some preliminary steps to actually acquire the desired item.

This last step may seem like a temptation, but it is actually a measured step to snap the imaginary desire to have the item with a dose of reality.
Such as, if I wanted a particular new car.
One way to kill the desire is to go test drive the car and talk with the sales person, and see the BIG numbers on the sticker in the window.
Thus, the realization that I cannot afford the new toy will sink in and my desire will cool.
I have done this similar method before and it works for me.

So, for the last week, I have been debating about whether to get another dog.
I even went online and found two candidates within 30 miles or so.
Both of these dogs are in shelters and are full-grown.
I pondered and argued with myself for several days over this.
So yesterday I called one of the shelters to inquire about one of the dogs.
I found out the details of the animal and the cost to adopt ($150).
I told the lady that I would think about a visit.
That ended my curiosity.

The truth is, I cannot afford another dog.
I am unemployed and have small chance at landing a job at my age (67).
If I do not find something, I may have to file for bankruptcy before the end of the year.
Not complaining, just stating a fact.

I am now deathly afraid that any new dog I get will also get sick and die.
I do not have the income to pay for more doctor bills.
The dog now lying in the hole in my back yard cost me $450 and died 34 hours after the doctor gave her a clean bill of health.
I dread going through the emotional trauma of another loss like I just went through.

If I DO get a job, it will reduce my free time, which I need to spend (some) with the new dog.
I cannot get a dog and then leave it alone in my back yard all the time.
That is not fair to the animal.
What is the point of that?
But I still have that one percent desire/interest of getting another dog.
That is my heart speaking.
My head says, no.
No way.
For many reasons.

We will see who wins.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The One Percent Decison

I promise I will not keep boring both of you with this topic but I need to purge a few last thots about it.

As I noted in an earlier blog, just a few seconds after Sally died, the thot came to my mind, “this is my last dog”.
I was not crying then, or even grieving at that moment. (that would come a few minutes later...)
I was as coldly lucid as I have ever been in my life.
I was tending to my friend as a doctor and friend.
Observing every detail of her last minutes of life, trying to comfort her as much as possible.

I did not dwell on it then, but I have had some time to ponder the thot since then (and my subconscious dreams have worked through more of the possible scenarios and details, it seems).
In addition, several of the well-wishers who have stopped by or otherwise expressed kind thots and feelings to me, have asked if I plan to get another dog.
To all I have said, no.

Would I LIKE another dog?
Under certain conditions – yes.
Do I NEED another dog?
No.
Do I WANT another dog?
No. (not in my present or foreseeable circumstances)

This is not a decision made out of bitterness or anger or emotional distress of the moment.
It is coldly logical.
All of the reasons why I did not want a dog in the first place last year, still hold – small yard, lack of time to devote to the animal, etc.
I love animals in general, I love dogs in particular, and I love them enough to want to avoid placing them in circumstances that will make them uncomfortable, unhappy or unhealthy.
And now that I am looking for a full time job (again...) I will have less time to devote to an animal, should I be successful in that quest.

And I have told some that this is a 99 percent firm decision.
The one percent is to allow me to change my mind at some point in the future.
Maybe.

But my subconscious mind, it seems, has already run several scenarios for the one percent decision.
It has been only as my conscious mind probed some questions related to this topic that I discovered that I already had come to some conclusions about them.

Here they are:

Scenario 1

I wake up one day (or come home from work/errand/church) and find a large, open box on my door step with a puppy in it.
Donor - unknown.
I can choose to keep the little creature or I can take it to the Huntsville Animal Services office and let them deal with it.
Outcome depends on my situation at the time of discovery.

Scenario 2

I wake up one day (or come home from work/errand/church) and find a dog lying (alive) on my porch, in my yard, etc. tail tentatively wagging.
This could be a small puppy, an older puppy, or a full-grown dog.
Circumstances for the arrival of the animal – unknown.
I can choose to keep the creature, seek to find its owner or I can take it to the Huntsville Animal Services office and let them deal with it.
Outcome depends on my situation at the time of discovery.

Scenario 3

I go to the Huntsville Animal Services office (which is about three miles from my house...) to seek a new dog for my yard and life.
This is done simply out of desire to have a new fuzzy friend.
The new animal could be a puppy or a more mature animal depending on how the introductions go at the animal facility.
Sometimes you know right away, other times, you take a chance and the relationship develops over time.
This would only be done if my life situation allowed me to devote the proper amount of time and effort to training/caring for the animal.

Scenario 4

I contact the same people who provided Sally the Dog, contract for another animal from the next litter and get a more-or-less exact replacement for the big white dog I used to have.
This, knowing that no two dogs are ever the same, even of the same breed, even from the same mother, even from the same litter.
So I know from the this moment that no other dog will be an exact replica of Sally.
I am under no delusions about this.
We will learn each other and develop a relationship based on how our personalities interact.
The new dog will be named Patty.

Frankly, I am amazed that my mind has constructed each of these possibilities without my authorization.
If you were to call me delusional, I would not argue.

Below are the last pictures of me and my dog.




Saturday, May 12, 2012

Leftovers...

LEFTOVERS

It was one week ago tonight that my dog died.
Strangely, it seems both longer than that, and as if it were last night.
But I am slowly moving on.

I can go long stretches of time without feeling the strong, sad emotions of a few days ago.
But when they come now, they come so suddenly that they surprise me.
Like today while I was shopping for groceries.
I guess I got too close to the pet supply aisle.
I actually did not go into that area and I did not consciously look there.
But I guess I subconsciously saw some pet stuff peripherally from where I was and that set me off.
The emotion came suddenly and I fought to suppress it just as quickly.
Then it was over, leaving me with just another reminder that that big white dog meant more to me than I realized.
There is still a lot to learn about myself, it seems.

THE RUN

I tried to go to bed earlier last night so I would be rested for my four-mile run this morning.
I tried.
It was still after ten before I switched off the light.
I slept pretty good most of the night but had to get up about four-something to piddle.
Because it was so close to my regular getty-up time I had a bit of a battle getting back to sleep.
And as usually happens in this situation, I was just getting good and snuggly asleep when my alarm gently poked in my ear drum.
Now, too sleepy to want to get up, I turned off the alarm and resumed sleeping with my mental clock set for ten more minutes.
And sure enough, that is what my head did.

I rolled out of the Royal Bed and began my pre-run ministrations.

The run went well the first three miles.
I felt reasonably strong, though my breathing went into level 3 before I was one mile into the party. (level 3 is one in-and-out breathing cycle every three steps)
But I was more or less comfortable and bopped along without a problem.

But after walking up most of Mountainwood Drive, my left knee began whining loudly as I began running again.
The reason for this is unclear.
I had not done any fancy footwork, stepped in any holes, landed badly with that foot, etc.

But the ligament under the front of my left kneecap was NOT happy.
And it told me about it every single step I took.
Loudly. (read: painfully)
So much so that Runner, Coach and Running Central were in intense discussion about whether to stop running and walk a while.
The pain felt similar to someone poking the end of a small piece of wood into the bone behind my lower left knee ligament.

The consensus was to keep going and see if things could be sorted out.
So I continued on along Tollgate Road trying subtle changes in the way I put down my left foot to see if I could make the pain go away.
Nothing seemed to help, but after half a mile or so, I realized that the sharp pain had gone away.
It was replaced with a dull, muted mumble of mild discomfort.
This was easy enough to bare that the conference was cancelled.
I finished the run feeling delightfully tired and jacked up on my endorphins.
All in all, another good run.

There were several other runners out this morning.
The big Cotton Row race is in two weeks.
I am running in the 5K this year with the wife of a friend from church who is a new runner.
This will be her first race.
This will be my 135th race or something like that.
I don't know.
It doesn't matter, really.

Almost...

Well, I almost made it through the day without a crackup.
Almost.
I cleaned my back door off today, to remove all the dried muddy paw
marks, and slobber residue.
I did fine.
I can look at the grave in the back yard and just feel an emptiness now.

I hung my bed sheets out on the clothesline today for the first time
this year without any concern that someone would see them as a game
and pull them off.
I managed that okay, too.
All the toys are picked up and safely in the landfill, inside and out.

I still go the back door and look in the back yard out of habit.
I know there is nothing to see out there now.
Just the grass with that little patch of brown dirt out next to the fence...
But I go anyway, and look.
I don't know why.
Maybe just to test myself in some way.

But as I was pondering what to fix for dinner tonight, I saw the beef
strips in the refrigerator I bought for my friend two weeks ago.
I had cooked them so that they would be ready to warm up and mix with
her corn-ball food.
I could not decide if I wanted to have dinner from Mexican Express, or
fix something here, maybe using those un-used beef strips.
And somewhere in my attempt to make a decision, I lost it.
It kind of surprised me.

Meal time was a special time for us.
Breakfast and dinner.
We would eat together....
Well, we ate separately but at about the same time.
Just a few feet apart in the same room.

She would always finish hers first.
It was never enough.
And she would shadow me as I sat down at the table with whatever I had fixed.
In the last couple of months she had settled into a routine of sitting
or laying next to my chair, or at my feet under the table and quietly
wait while I ate.
Sometimes her paw would settle on my foot.

And I spoiled her by letting her lick the last residue from my plates
or bowls when I was finished.
Then while I washed the dishes, she would play in the back room with
some of her toys.

Interestingly, the place where my chair sits while I eat, is the exact
spot where she choose to lie down for the last time.
Did she knowingly choose that spot to die?
Or was that a coincidence?
Somehow I doubt it.
But sometimes I try to read too much into situations.

Still a ways to go....

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Second Guessing

I caught myself second-guessing my actions in the last days of Sally the dog again this morning.
If only I had done this, or not done that.
If had known she was going to die so soon Saturday night, I would have stopped reading the stupid book I was reading and sat with her in the dining room that whole last hour.
(Jesus said, "What, could you not watch with me one hour?" Matthew 26:40)

Then my mind goes to the thought I had Sunday morning as I was going through this line of thought,

She does not care now.
She does not hurt now.
She holds nothing against you.

The truth is, Sally just wanted to be near me.
She expected very little from me.
She had no expectations about what I could do to ease her discomfort or heal her illness.
She only knew that she was sick/uncomfortable.
My time with her those last three days was all she expected and thus, all she wanted.
All she knew to receive from me was food (which she could not use at the time), water (which I provided for her and she drank the first two days), physical proximity (which meant I was interested in her), my occasional petting/scratching/rubbing, and my occasional chatter.
The truth is, even when I was busy doing other things, she was happy just to be near me in the same room, or in the room next to me, or in the same house with me.

If you watch two healthy dogs, they occasionally play with each other, which involves running/chasing each other, chewing/biting each other, and pawing/touching each other.
At other times, they simply lay near each other.
Occasionally they will sleep touching each other, but not always.
The key element in friendship/relationship for a dog is proximity.
I have learned this over the last 20+ years and did my best to apply this understanding to this relationship with this dog.

Interestingly, only humans pet/scratch animals.
Animals do not do this among themselves, though they will occasionally lick each other.

The human element in my relationship with my dogs is that I talk to them.
Not in a squeaky baby-talk voice, but in a regular tone, like I would a child or adult.
I understand that dogs do not understand english (or any human language), but they do understand the emotion/energy (as Cesar calls it) that we humans have.
Over time, they learn what we want them to do and not do, and we learn what they like to do and not do.

The animal I named Sally was just a dog.
Although humans and some animals can develop strong relational bonds, in the final analysis, animals are still just animals.
It is easy for we humans to over-interpret the actions and thinking of our pets.

I still catch myself feeling guilty for some of the things I did or did not do with Sally.
The truth is, she probably did not notice.
Even if she did, she did not hold it against me.

I miss my dog.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

My First Walk Alone Since....



I promise this will not go on forever.
But I have to purge my mind/heart of this pain.
And I am getting better.

I walked around the neighborhood this morning at dawn.
This is the first time I have done this in several months.
My daily walks with Sally had become my exercise walking time.
Now I am back to the solitary method.
It felt both strange and comfortable.

While walking, I think about stuff.
Not unexpectedly, my thoughts lately have been predominantly introspective.
And perhaps a bit selfish.
One thought I had this morning was, did I even have a big white dog?
Were the last 150 days real?
Or did I just imagine it all?

I did okay for most of my walk, but my mind wandered into forbidden territory toward the end.
I was in the last quarter mile of my walk and my mind replayed my last 20 minutes with Sally.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
I don't know but I did it.
Again.
How many times in the last two days have I tortured by heart with a re-run of those last twenty minutes or so?

I remembered when I came into the dining room to check on her, her tail did two weak flops.
It was her acknowledgment that she knew I was there and she appreciated my presence.
She was giving me all that she could at that moment.
Two little tail wags was all she had left to give to me.

I lost it then.
Right in the middle of the street.
I kept going, struggling to get my childish boo-hoo's under control.
It took a few long seconds, but I managed.

It will be hard not to think of her when I walk alone again because we walked these streets together.
I see things that she found worthy of a extra sniff.

Sorry to prattle on....

Monday, May 07, 2012

On Sally the Dog


Please bear with me in this.
This is how I drain the pain and grief I have inside me now.
I write.
I do not wish to spread my pain to others, but for those few who are interested in the details of Sally, the Great Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog's final days and her passing, this will answer most questions.
My motive is not to cause you to feel sorry for me, because in a few days or weeks, I will be fine, with just some memories of these events.

This is how our last days together went.
I realize that for most people this is TMI to the extreme.
But I need to do this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The first indicator that something was wrong was Wednesday evening when I let Sally into the house and presented her with her dinner.
I had just cooked some beef strips and mixed a few of them with her dry dog food.
Normally she would have gobbled this combination down in a minute or two.
But that night she took a couple of sniffs and looked up at me.
I knew right then that something was very wrong with my dog.

I put her food down on the floor in its usual place and continued to prepare my dinner.
She went back to the back door to be let out.
I let her out and she went out onto the grass and vomited.
After eating my dinner I went out in the back yard and sat with her for about 30 minutes.
In that time, she heaved 5 more times.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday morning when I greeted Sally in the morning about our usual time of 6:30 she was about the same.
Still no appetite.
She wanted to be in the house with me and watched from the back room as I ate my breakfast.
Since the morning walk was cancelled, I spent some time with her in the back yard.

As the day went on she was throwing up every 30 minutes to hour or so.
I had seen her be sick before, so I was not too concerned.
After a few heaves and some rest she would recover and we would be fine.
Or so I thought.
Since her stomach was empty by now, her throwing up amounted to the dry heaves.
Very little substance with a little light-colored liquid of stomach bile and/or the last bit of water she had drunk came out.

I was concerned and did some online research on sick dogs.
One item stated that being sick was not as big a deal for a dog as it was for humans.
It said that for most sickness, they heal on their own within 24 hours.
This seemed reasonable to me so I made a mental note to wait until Friday morning before taking any action.
I also did an online search for nearby veterinarians just in case.

Since she was too sick to play or go for a walk, I consciously made time to go out and sit with her in the yard while she lay around being sick.
I was worried about my doggy and it was killing me to watch her suffering.

After seeing pictures of dogs sitting/lying near their dead owners/companions, I felt that she would understand if I just sat quietly by her.
I began praying for her.
Not knowing what we were in for, I prayed that God would either heal her or take her quickly.
Helplessly watching her suffer was killing me.
I prayed and cried for her several times that day.

That evening I let her in the house and she slept quietly most of the night next to my bed.
She seemed to rest well and I hoped we were turning a corner.
Maybe all she needed was some rest to beat this bug.

At about three AM she woke up – which woke me up.
I assumed she needed to go out to pee.
I let her out and she went into the grass and threw up again. (dry)
I was feeling sorry for my dog.
I left her outside and I went back to bed.
And at that moment I knew we were going to the doctor.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I called the selected veterinarian's office as soon as they opened Friday morning and made an appointment for that morning.
I did not call this an emergency but we needed some help/information quickly.
My dog was suffering and I could not stand to watch helplessly much longer.
The doctor and the assistant were very gentle and careful with my Girl as they poked and prodded her.
They took her into the back room to do blood samples and x-rays while I waited in the lobby.

About 30 minutes later the doctor came out and we looked at the x-ray pictures (2 of them) together.
Her large intestine seemed to have a lot of material in it.
There were no other obstructions or other indicators of a problem to be seen.
Sally's blood showed all normal.
She was not dehydrated, her heart beat was strong and clean and normal, her temperature was normal, the doctor said there was a lot of intestinal gurgling.
She weighed 63 pounds.
There was no obvious indicators for her sickness.
I mentioned the dead bird that she had munched on during our wednesday morning walk.
The doctor noted that, but there was nothing in the results of the examination to indicate that it was the cause of the problem.

They gave me some pills to fight her gastroenteritis and another to calm her nausea, and scheduled another appointment for the following Friday.

She continued to throw up every hour or two that day.
I went out and sat with her for an hour or so three or four times.
Each time I talked to her, petted her, prayed for her, cried, and felt totally useless.
Since Sally had been mildly sedated to allow the vet to do the x-rays and blood tests, I did not give any pills to Sally until that afternoon.
Ten minutes after I put the two pills on the back of her tongue she threw up again.
That evening I offered her the chance to come inside, she seemed content to stay outside, so we slept separately.

She woke me up around midnight with the sound of her vomiting just on the other side of the fence outside my bedroom window.
I lay in bed crying and praying for her for a while before drifting off to sleep again.


Saturday, May 5, 2012


I went on my usual Saturday morning run at 5:30 AM.
I went outside to visit her that morning hoping for some signs of improvement.
There were none.
She did not seem worse, but no better.
I fixed breakfast for myself but fixed nothing for Sally because I knew she was not able to eat.
(had she shown the least amount of interest in eating anything I would have gladly complied)

I sensed that Sally was vomiting less often.
I hoped that perhaps we would see some improvement soon.
But the day wore on and I was becoming increasingly concerned.

She look exhausted and spent the day lying in a spot for 30 minutes or so, then getting up and slowly walking to another spot to do the same.
And the places she picked were interesting.
She went to the far south-west corner of the yard, then to the far north-east corner, then to another far corner against the fence.
In almost every case, she went to the farthest edge of the yard and laid against the fence.

Her walk was that of a zombie.
She would get up and stand still for a few seconds.
She could not hold her head up, her front legs were covered with vomit or saliva and thick strings of it hung from either side of her mouth.
I would wipe her mouth with a paper towel and 10 minutes later she would be messy again.
This was not always from vomiting again, but just from slobbering, it seems.

She walked slowly to her next destination then plopped down and lay like the sphinx.
Evidently, she could not lay on her side or she would become sick again, but I am just guessing at this.

I went out to sit with her several times that day.
I would talk to her, pet her, cry and pray for her.
My prayer was basically the same from the beginning – I asked God to heal her.
And if He was not going to heal her, then allow her to die quickly with as little suffering as possible.
I was silent much of the time I was with her.
As bad as it hurt me to see her suffering, I felt that I needed to be near her.
That SHE needed to know that I was near her.

My motive for this came from some pictures I had seen in the last few months of dogs who had lost friends or owners.
In each case, the dog would remain near the dead companion in silent vigil.
Sally was not dead, but I tried to emulate that dog action, hoping she would understand.
And I hoped that it would provide some measure of comfort to my, otherwise miserable, friend.

By afternoon I realized that Sally had stopped drinking her water.
I was dying for my dear, suffering dog.
I could do nothing for her and she had no idea how to communicate anything helpful to me.
Strangely, at dinner time, she went to the back door of my house.
I opened the door to let her in.
After several long seconds she stepped into the house and lay down by the door.
As sick and weak as she seemed, I hoped that this was a sign that she was getting better.
While I fixed my dinner in the kitchen, she lay in the next room quietly panting.
By this time, her mouth was dry. (too dry, I was to soon find out)

I took turns reading a book, playing on my computer and talking and sitting with Sally after my dinner.
She in turn moved slowly from lying in the back room to the bathroom, to my bedroom.
While I lay on my bed reading a book, Sally lay in a narrow patch of the floor next to my bed.
At about 6:30 PM she stood up.
She tried to turn around the leave the narrow (about 18 inches) area next to my bed but her hind legs would not cooperate.
It took her several seconds to get them to function, then she walked slowly to the dining room next to the chair where I usually eat.
At first I thought she wanted to go outside, but I was wrong.
I left her there and, unable to know what to do for her other than be near her, I returned to my book.
Just before 7:00 PM I went out to the dining room to see how she was doing.

Sally was laying on her side, panting.
It was a new posture for her.
This did not look good.
I sensed that she could lay like this for another 12 hours or it could be a matter of minutes until she died.

Her tongue looked like a piece of cooked bacon and her mouth was dry.
I got a spray bottle and filled it with cool water and sprayed her mouth a few times.
Her tongue never moved.
This was not good at all.

I went into the back room and got a seat cushion and sat down on the floor next to her.
Her tail flopped weakly twice.
She knew I was there. (although her eyes were open, I was not sure she could see anything)
I scratched her neck and ears a little and spoke to her.

With my heart breaking, I started to pray again and then I began to cry.
When I started to cry, SHE started to cry.
I immediately got control of myself.
If she could sense my emotions, even in her declining state of health, then I needed to be strong for her.
In those minutes I told Sally that I was sorry I could not help her.
I prayed quietly that God would take her quickly.

In the next minutes her breathing became more labored and shallower.
Soon, she was working so hard for her next breaths that she was pushing her paws against the floor.
A few times she mixed a faint high-pitched whimper in with her exhales.
She was struggling.
This was it.
Helplessly, I watched with morbid fascination as my friend faded from this life.

Finally, she stopped breathing altogether.
I felt her heart still beating, strongly, in a surprisingly slow rhythm – about one beat per second.
It would be just a few seconds now...
She let out a deep exhale.
About a minute later her heart stopped.
She gave one last deep gasp, her body convulsed and she was gone.
I looked at the clock, it was 7:17 PM.

An inky black liquid oozed from her mouth onto my white vinyl floor.
I got up and got some paper towels to clean up her small mess.
I checked her back end to see if there was anything leaking from there, but there was nothing.

I was coldly lucid.
There were no tears, no prayers now.
My Sally was dead.
Gone.
There was nothing more I could do.
In a selfish way I was glad she was dead.
She would suffer no more.
And I would suffer no more, either.

I remember thinking, this is my last dog.

I knew I needed to move her fairly soon so I looked in my back room at my available wood to find a pallet to transport by big, dead dog outside.
I found a four foot piece of plywood left over from a piece of furniture I had built then dismantled that would fill the need.

I slid Sally's body up onto the piece of wood and pulled her out of the house, being illogically careful as I went over the step-downs to the patio.
Even though I had not given much conscious thought to where I would bury my dog, I dragged her pallet across the back grass to a spot about three feet from the back fence.
I slid her body off the plywood and went back into the house.

I little more black liquid had run from her mouth so I wiped it off of the plywood and returned the piece to its place against the wall.
I did a final wipe up of the dining room floor and went into my bedroom and posted the notice on Facebook that she had died.

I debated whether to bury her body then or wait until morning.
It was so dark at about 7:30 that I was not sure I could finish the job and do it properly.
But waiting until morning allowed the risk of varmints coming to desecrate my dog in the night.
I decided to wait until morning, wake up early and dig the hole.

I was surprised at my cool demeanor.
Fifteen minutes ago I was crying, now I was cool.
I knew what was going on.
I was in shock.
The state would not last.
And it did not.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I took spells of reading and crying until 1 AM, when I finally turned out the light.
I slept fitfully, waking up every hour.
After I woke up at five AM I could not go back to sleep.
I was thinking of digging that hole.
As I was putting on my work boots, I heard the distant rumble of thunder.
Now what, I grumbled.

I went outside and began digging.
Fortunately, no critters had found Sally's body.
I dug my hole down to about nine inches when the weather threatened to rain and zap me.

Reluctantly, I took Sally's body by her hind feet and dragged her into my tool shed to protect her from the coming rain.
Why I did this I am not sure.
I went into the house to look at the local radar.
The storm was significant but mostly to the east of my part of town.
It rained a little, but not hard, and not for long.

After about 30 minutes, I decided to risk getting killed by lightening to finish my job.
At this point I did not care if I got killed.
In a light drizzle with lightening rumbling around me, I finished my hole.
I rolled Sally's stiff body into the hole, arranged her head, legs and tail then began putting the dirt on top of her.
I tired to not think about what I was doing.
One thing I noticed when I had rolled her over was that her now-stiff tongue had fallen out of her mouth and had lay flat against her jaw.

When I finished covering the hole and scraped most of the mud off of my work boots, I took them off and went into the house.
The first thing that hit me was the memory of Sally's tongue, now stiff and still, that used to lick my hand and my used dishes.
And I fell apart.
Again.

…...............................

I did not realize how many times in a day I used to look into my back yard.
This comes to mind because now I catch myself start to look only to realize that there is nothing back there to see.
It was an acquired habit.
Any time I was not otherwise occupied I would take a peek at my dog in the back yard to see what she was doing.
When I left the house to go somewhere, when I returned, while going to or from the kitchen to the bedroom, or just because I was curious.
There is no need now.

I did not mind eating alone.
I have done it for twelve years.
Occasionally, I would have a guest or two.
But mostly I have eaten alone.

After Sally came I got used to having her around while I ate.
After she learned the rules about not taking what was not hers, she was very well behaved.
Now, suddenly, eating alone feels VERY alone.
Empty.
Lonely.


It will take a while to get comfortable eating alone again.

I have removed the special plywood shelf I fixed in the rear seat of my car so Sally could ride back there more steadily.
(I was in the process of building a smaller one for the front passenger seat, no longer needed.)
She loved to ride in the car.
All the towels I had dedicated to her car trips are now washed and ready to put back on the shelf.
No longer needed.

I have mopped up all the faint paw prints from my kitchen floor one last time.
The box of doggy toys has been removed and the toys thrown away.
Tomorrow I plan to rake the back yard to collect and remove all the doggy toys and sticks from there.
There will be one last scoop up operation with the shovel to remove the remaining deposits from the back yard.
I want to remove the dog house, but my son warned me to keep it around for a few weeks.

I loved my dog.
I am surprised by the depth and intensity of my reaction to Sally's sickness and death.
She was just a dog.
But apparently I had invested a lot of emotional resources into our relationship.
The greater the commitment, the greater the hurt at separation.

She only lived 195 days.

WHY DID SHE DIE?

We do not know.
I went back to the veterinarian today to ask her why my dog died.
She had no answers.
I questioned her about parvovirus.
Did she test Sally for it?
No.
Why?
There were no indicators that it was present (rectal bleeding/discharge/diarrhea, extreme weakness, very low or very high white blood cell counts, etc.)

I asked her about the dark liquid when Sally died.
The vet said it was probably old blood but there was no indicators at the time of her examination what caused that.
(I never saw any dark liquid when Sally was vomiting. And I saw her vomit at least ten times or more...)

From the time I first noticed that something was wrong (Wednesday evening) until the visit to the veterinarian (Friday morning) was 40 hours.
From the time of the visit to the veterinarian until her death (Saturday evening) was 34 hours.
Total time of Sally's illness – 74 hours.

I am saving a question for God - Why did you allow me to have this dear creature for five months or so and then take her away from me?

Friday, March 16, 2012

A SPECIAL TIME

[For perspective, read my previous post before reading this entry.
These two events took place less than two hours apart.]


Last night about 7:15 a powerful thunderstorm came through our town.
It produced some of the most significant lightening I have seen in a while.
I like watching thunderstorms, and, since I did not have anything pressing to occupy my time, I turned off all the lights in the house and watched the light show outside through the windows, and from my covered back porch.

I was also curious how Sally the Great Pyrenees Mountain Fluff Pile would respond to the storm.
From previous observations, it seemed that she was not particularly bothered by thunderstorms.
In times past, I have watched her lay around in the yard as the wind picked up and the rain started, seemingly unconcerned by the environment.
When the rain became heavier, she retreated to her dog house to wait out the excitement.
So, amid my personal observation of the approaching storm last night, I took occasional peeks at Sally in the back yard.

The lightening was spectacular and the thunder was impressive, with deep, overlapping rumbles, booms, bangs going off all around us.
Finally, the rain changed from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour.
Sally went from her snuggle spot against the back of my house into her house to watch.
But apparently the lightening was too much for her.

As I watched, she bolted from her house out into the heavy rain to her napping spot in the southwest corner of the yard.
There is no protection from rain there so in a second or two, she raced across the yard to the northeast corner, another one of her favorite spots to nap sometimes.
No escape there, either.
At this point, I could stand this no longer.
I opened the back door just enough to stick my head out and began calling and whistling to her to come in.

Amid the racket of rain and thunder, it took a few long seconds for her to hear me, but when she did, she came to me.
I got a towel and wiped her off.
It was clear that she was excited and distressed and it took a minute or two for her to settle down.
But finally, she laid down on the floor next to my work table, about three feet from the back door (now closed).
I opened the curtains so we could watch the excitement outside, and I sat down on the floor next to her.
I gave her a few scratches around her ears (contrary to what Cesar Milan and his disciples say to do in this kind of situation, this seemed to help calm her....) and sat still and mostly silent.

I say mostly silently because I could not help muttering occasional comments about the jagged streaks of light that were lighting up the dark sky.
(in fairness to Cesar, I purposefully remained mostly still, quiet and calm, as he suggests, to allow her to sense my calm “energy” in spite of the distressing environment outside, which seemed to work as he describes.)

I laid my hand on the floor between us (we were about six inches apart) and she skooched herself so that one of her front paws was under my hand and the other was halfway covering a couple of my fingers.
We sat quietly in the dark and watched the light show together.

She calmed down and laid her head next to my hand – within tongues reach, and occasionally licked my hand.

This reminded me of my former dog, Woof.
He was a big country mutt (I suspect he was part Great Pyrenees because of the shape of his ears and his heavy fur – especially in winter) that for his heroic antics in good weather, was afraid of thunderstorms.
Woof never liked to be inside a building.
He never came into our house.
But when a thunderstorm came, I let him into our small back porch room, and he would lie on the floor next to the freezer to wait out the storm.
Many times I would sit there in the dark with him for a few minutes.

So last night, with such memories in my head, Sally and I shared a special time together.
We sat/laid in the darkness, watching the storm outside for about an hour.

I had the feeling that it was a life-changing event for my dog.
While I may be over-estimating its effect, I suspect that she will feel differently about me from now on.
When things settled down outside, I invited her to go out, reluctantly, she went.

While I would have liked for her to remain in the house (even all night), she is still a puppy and wants to constantly play with me.
And playing for her means biting my hands, legs and feet.
I am sick of that, and did not want to change our quiet time together into a nose-slapping “NO!” session. (Which is exactly what happened between us when I went out into the back yard with her after dinner tonight – see previous posts.)

Another Whiny Post

I am so discouraged.

My poor dog does not know how play without biting.
I feel so sorry for her.

After dinner (during which she was very good (went outside to drain,
etc) I went outside with her to play for a few minutes (since I am the
only person she has to play with [about which I feel guilty]).
I decided to play pull rag with her as she seems to enjoy the physical
challenge of the game.
She is still teething and got some blood on our pull rag.
I moved on to tossing her teddy bear (which magically appeared in our
yard a couple of weeks ago) to see if she wanted to play fetch - after
a few tosses she seemed bored.
We tried pull again but she got excited and began biting my hands and
legs and shoes instead of the flannel sheet I had given her for this
game.

As I have written before, she seems to know that she is not supposed
to bite, but she seemingly cannot help herself.
She will stop for a few seconds but returns to snapping (gently,
playfully) at my hands, shoes and legs.
I tell her no and try to move my hands away from her head.
I have taken to slapping her nose when she bites.
I hate doing that because I do not want her to become afraid of my hands.
Finally, she had both of my hands/wrists bleeding from her
still-hypodermic teeth.
After the last grab, she got a new hole bleeding in my hand, I swatted
her nose hard with a final "no" and went inside.

I wiped off the blood and bathed my hands in rubbing alcohol.
Looking out the window, I saw her laying on the patio by the back door
waiting for me.  ;(
I actually prayed to God to help my dog understand what was acceptable behavior.
I know she does not speak English and has only a vague idea of what I
am saying/doing/want
.
In many ways she is doing good but this is a real problem.

I feel guilty that she has only me to play with.
I like her to be near me, but I cannot play with her constantly.
I feel guilty when I hit her or scold her because I know she does not
really understand what is expected of her.
She is only a dog.
Living is the city is different from living in the country like her siblings.
I feel sorry for my dog.

I know this sounds whiny but I love my dog.
I do not want her hurt or to do things that will get her in trouble.
This is another of my mood swings where I get so discouraged with her
I want to give her away to some people who have a nice big farm where
she can play and romp and BE a guard dog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The State of the Union

Not of the United States, just my house.
Sally the Great Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog Fluff Muffin has been showing more little bits of improvement this past week.
This past Friday I left the back door open after I let her in for breakfast, because the weather was so nice.
At one point, after Sally had eaten, she walked to the back room, went out the doorway and did her business in the grass.
I was impressed.
When she was done she trotted back inside.
I told her how impressed I was with her achievement.
For the last week or so, we have had no Events to tarnish her record of self control.

And due to her learned behaviors and my watchful eye, I have found her standing at the back door, waiting to be let out to do her morning squattings every day.
We have this routine down pretty well.

We have been able to take a walk almost every morning this past week or two, and Sally has been taking new routes almost each session.
She has met some new dogs and seen many more that she could not get close enough to meet.
And she has found many yucky things to taste, lick, eat, and sniff.

Saturday was the big day for us.
After I did my morning run and shopping, I took Sally the Mountain Dog to a mountain.
We went to the Bankhead Land Trust for a hike on one of their many trails.
We did this the week before but there was a time limit on us that day so we could not go as far as I would have liked.

This day was different.
We could go as far as she could stand (I just assumed that I [ahem] could go the distance with no problem. This proved to be only partially true.).
I set a time frame of about two hours – one hour out and one hour back – because that has proved to be about Sally's limit of endurance.
Even if she does not know it.
Being a typical dog, she will bop til she drops (literally) if I do not intervene.

It had recently rained and there was plenty of mud on the trails, but I expected this.
I had an extra towel in the car should I need to de-mud my Fluffy Muff.
The springs and streams along the way were chattering happily with fresh water, which Sally played in and partook of at every opportunity.

We hiked about a mile out.
This included a brief off-the-trail jaunt up some steep rocks to give her (and yers troolee) some REAL climbing experience.
We went up about 30 or 40 feet then walked a short distance of a level shelf and found an easier descent path back down to our trail.
At a point or two I had to allow Sally to work out her fear/perplexity about how to scale the terrain presented to her.
She is a puppy yet, after all.
But she did fine.

At a certain point, I decided that she had had enough, and convinced her to turn around and go back.
When we go back to the car, she did not want to get in, so we sniffed around the parking lot for another ten minutes.
Finally, I convinced her to get into the car and we drove home.

During the ride home, it was clear that Sally the Mountain Dog was tired and hot (the temp was about 65).
I got the impression that she wanted to sit up an see the traffic and scenery but was too tired to do so.
Thus, she laid down in the back seat (properly covered with a towel) and panted most of the way home.

When we go home, she took another big drink of water and laid down in the shade.
She slept for almost three hours.

Then came the phone call.
Jef called and we arranged a drop-off/pick-up deal with some vehicles nearby (he is moving).
In the process, he invited me and Sally to his new homestead to explore and visit with his wife, and children and dogs – Sally's brother and sister.
I had been wanting to do this for a while so quickly agreed.

I went home and fixed up the car for more possible dirty doggy.
When Sleepy Sally saw the leash again she was ready to go.
She had a pleasant time riding in the car again; this time, on the longest car trip she has ever been on (about 30 minutes).

When we got to the property, I let her off her leash, with my heart in my throat, and let her go.
Her brother and sister (and the family) had not yet arrived.
She trotted off down the gravel road by herself, sniffing and looking around (this was her first visit here).
Soon the gang arrived, and like the clown car at the circus, dozens of occupants poured fourth from the big truck/car.
Sally soon took up with her siblings and they began frolicking and exploring together.

While the humans talked and played and watched, the dogs played and sniffed around their new territory.
We had to call them back from the neighbors yard once, but the dogs mostly stayed within view and played and watched the area.

Romeo the cat came along as well and played Yard Tiger as the people talked and planted potatoes.
Romeo is an amazing animal – especially for a cat.
He is very tolerant of big playful dogs and little children who love to carry him around.
He, in turn, likes to engage the humans by lying or sitting or standing on them, if they are not moving around too much.
There is a famous picture of Romeo lying on Jef's lap while he is driving.
Romeo is my kind of cat.

The dogs played off and on the whole time we were there (about 2 hours).
Sally had a wonderful time, but I knew she was very tired.
On the ride home, she took spells to sitting up and watching the passing parade and laying down panting.
She was dirty, too.

I was tired as well.
But I debated with myself whether to give her a bath.
She needed it and I knew I could not give her a bath on Sunday because of all the comings and goings I must do.

So, after dinner, I got the bucked and extra towels and took off her collar.
She really did not want to get into the tub and do this, but she took it all reasonably well.
And she was ready to get out of the tub when I was done rinsing her.
She WAS dirty.
The rinse water was light brown.

Sally's fir is so thick it absorbs a LOT of water.
Drying her off will soak two large towels and probably a third.
She is never completely dry when we are “done”.
So, even though she was still damp, and was going to be in the 40's that night, I let her outside to bed down in the cool breeze.

As usual, I worried about her, but I need not have.
She was fine, and happy to see me the next morning.
And dry.
But she was not the same doggy.
Sunday morning, Sally was quiet, and subdued as I fixed her breakfast.
She sat or laid on the floor and watched me do my morning doings for the both of us.
I was tired, too.
Since I did not have time for a walk Sunday morning, I planned to take her for a walk that afternoon.
But I was so tired after morning church meeting, that I took a nap first.
Later that afternoon I took Sally for a walk, but she could barely trot.

As is our custom, I let her pick the route, she plodded along sniffing and looking, but after a turn around the block she headed us back home.
Instead of her usual 45 minute to one-hour session, this one barely lasted thirty minutes.

Monday morning, she was STILL sagging.
She was quiet for breakfast, and our morning walk was more sedate than usual.
The walk lasted about an hour, but Sally did a lot of walking (and much less trotting or running).
I was a bit sore as well.

Tuesday, Sally was a bit more her old self, but still a bit more subdued than usual.
That evening after dinner I played with her in the yard and she became more rowdy (play-biting, etc).
This morning she was mostly quiet, sitting or laying as she watched me prepare our food.
I think her big weekend has changed her forever.

Sally's most annoying habit is play-biting.
We are working on this.
On my part, I am trying to train/teach her to not bite with a combination of keeping my hands/arms away from her mouth so that she cannot bite me, and slapping her nose when she does.
I do not like hitting her.
I do not want her to be afraid of my hands.
But she seems to not be able to keep herself from biting when she is playing.
I have tried everything I have read to correct this problem (substituting a chew toy, turning away from her, yelping like a dog when she bites, etc).
Nothing has worked.

On her part, it is clear that she knows it is forbidden.
It is clear that she tries to not bite hard.
When she is slapped and scolded, she tries to stop but gets frustrated because she does not know how to play otherwise.

In addition, she is teething.
Her new adult teeth have come in across the front of her mouth (and perhaps her new molars).
But her baby incisors are still in place, and they are the four teeth that do the most damage/injury.
I thinks things will improve when her adult teeth are all in.

I am looking forward to taking the big dog on another trail hike soon.
Since I have a commitment this Saturday, I may try to go hiking with her on Friday.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Progress of the Dog

Sally the Great Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog is now, officially, four months old.
About 17 weeks, to be precise.
She is changing and maturing almost daily in small ways.

We are still working on her play biting.
She is doing better (better = less), and it is clear that she is trying to do better.
But my still-bloody/scared hands and wrists testify that she is failing to overcome her puppy habit.
Some days she does better than others, but it is clear that she understands that I do not like it and she tries to restrain her natural tendency.
Yet, she still bites me when she feels playful or excited.
Sally seems to do better at this in the mornings than in the evenings, I am not sure why.

Sally's progress on house training is spotty at best (sorry).
She can go days without an indoor transgression, then do (sorry) as she did the other evening and, as I was doing the dishes, produce a fresh, warm puddle on the kitchen floor, looking me right in the eye the whole time.
Of course she was banished to the back yard, which she seems to understand better than that she is not to eliminate in my house.
But if I am watchful, as I said, she can go several days in a row without a ill-placed deposit.

By far, Sally's favorite time is our walks together.
She has learned that they usually happen in the morning after we eat and I finish washing the dishes and brush my teeth (lest I forget).
I have a certain jacked that I wear in the cold weather, that she now recognizes as my walking uniform, and when I reach to put it on, she becomes excited.
My reach for the leash – which hangs on a screw in the back room wall – she becomes slightly more excited.
I always hook the leash to her collar when we are outside, and she can barely hold still enough to allow me to find the D-ring on her collar to attach the leash.
Then it is off down the driveway to sniff the surrounding territory.

While she tends to travel the same basic paths, she has in the last week or so, begun to travel new streets.
Some of them, I have never been on the whole time I have lived here.
Thanks to Sally, I have now.
And we have settled into a cooperative negotiation process in our walks.
She seems to like to pull me along a bit, especially at the beginning of a walking session.
Cesar would be disdainful of how she “drags” me around.
I don't care, really.
His theory of Pack Leader vs submissive/passive walking is not valid for all dogs, methinks.

Sally is almost always compliant with my modifications to her chosen path or items of interest.
As I have stated, these walking sessions are for the DOG, not the people.
So I let her have a good bit of leeway in where she goes.
I mainly control her so that she does not dart into the path of a car (which she occasionally will try), or wander too deeply into a neighbor's yard.

In addition to her neighborhood walks, we go almost once a week for a car trip.
These are short rides to either a small park about two miles from my house, or the local dog park, about three miles from my house.
Sally enjoys both places, but I think she likes the dog park the most because there are so many of her cousins there.

Sally is very sociable and submissive with the other dogs and very friendly with the people.
We are often complemented on how pretty/cute/fuzzy she is.
Some ask her breed, other seem to know, and as she grows/matures, her breed is becoming more evident to those who know breeds.
She can only stand about 30 minutes in the doggy park because she runs herself to exhaustion with the other dogs.
I can see, as she gallops about, when she begins to drag a bit.
I will probably see some day soon just how long she will go before she stops on her own volition.

This past Tuesday was a day off work for me, the weather was pleasant, so I decided to be brave and take Sally the Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog to mountains for a short hike.
We drove to Bankhead Land Trust and hiked a short distance on one of the trails there.
I had a time constraint so we only traveled about a mile or so, which took almost an hour.
This was the second walk for Sally that day (we had already walked the neighborhood that morning), and it was the third walk for me (I had also done my 3 mile pre-dawn walk that morning).
We were both ready for a nap that afternoon.
I was a bit stiff and sore that evening.

But the net result of all of that was, when I took Sally out this morning for our usual neighborhood walk, she tried to get in the car.

To that issue, I have been pondering what I need to do to my car to better accommodate my increasingly big doggy.
While I like her to ride in my front passenger seat (covered with large towels), she is becoming so big that she just barely fits on it.
I may have to permanently assign her to the back seat, modified appropriately for her.
I may create some sort of wood platform to give her a more solid place to stand/sit/lay.
And, in spite of my efforts to cover my car interior, everything there is beginning to look like old flannel.
All of this is rocking along made possible by my current work schedule.
If I find another job (as I NEED to....) our walking, visiting schedule will have to be modified.

I feel a heavy weight of responsibility to my animal.
It is not fair to her to relegate her to my tiny back yard with no interaction for her with other dogs or people.
She is a social creature and needs regular communication or she will become a problem/destructive.
I dread that.