Wednesday, July 16, 2014

more thoughts on dogs

Back in 2006, when we first got Brodie, she and Jack would "Face Fight," which is a dog thing where it looks like they are actively trying to kill one another by eating their faces, but really, it is doggie play.

She was so small when we got her, that she would stick her head INSIDE his mouth, all the way. All the way inside his mouth. Like a lion tamer with a lion. And Jack would stand there and look at me like "well, what am I supposed to do with this aside from just .... wait?"

Yeah buddy, you just wait.

Face fights were a frequent occurrence in our house.  And it was a lot of fun to watch.  I have dozens of pictures of the two of them doing their daily shenanigans. They played so hard with one another. They would run through the house and tackle each other. He was already full grown, at about 70 pounds and she was getting bigger by the minute, and the ruckus. Oh the Ruckus!

Gonzo came on the scene shortly afterwards, and he and Brodie never really got along great... when Jack and Brodie would do their "sibling" bonding,  with the biting and the growling, and the running and chasing, and jumping on the couch and off the couch and into the back yard, and AIR HUMPING! And the biting biting biting! ... poor Gonzo would stand there and BARK at them and look at us as if to say "Will you please stop the children from behaving in such a manner!"

It was intolerable at times to listen to him barking while they played and did their thing, so we would break it up just for peace and quiet.

The past couple of days, Brodie and Jack have returned to their face fighting ways. Jack is far older, not as willing to participate as the little girl is, but they go at it and it is amazingly funny.

Jack also attempts to "dominate" her once again by humping her general vicinity. The air, her side, near the couch... it is like he needs to remind her that with Gonzo gone, HE is the Alpha, and she is still, no matter what, the sub-Omega.

Brodie has taken to washing his face every day, which she used to do to Gonzo. They never got along great but she did a great job of doing some nice subservient things for him. Now she does them for Jack. This morning it was very sweet watching her wash his face, both of their tails wagging...

And no one barking at them to knock it off.

I'm not saying I'm happy Gonzo is gone. By no means. I'm just noticing the dynamic.

Two dogs is very different than three dogs.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And then, there were two

In 2006,  Aaron asked us to take his dog.

He and his wife had separated and he took the dog to his parents' house because he thought the dog would be cared for better there. Turns out they couldn't care for him. He was too big, a handful, he needed a house with kids and running and yard and big dogs like himself instead of teacup yorkies.

So he asked, and we said yes. I long ago said that this alone gets me into heaven, or at least into the BFF with Dogs book that will make God smile on me. We always joked around that we got the kid in the divorce.

It was a big undertaking. We had just gotten Brodie, and let me tell you...  three dogs is a lot of dogs. Two has a certain dynamic. Jack and Brodie were doing great together as siblings. Jack and Gonzo had always gotten along beautifully. Brodie and Gonzo really didn't hit it off.

Things were challenging, and there were days when I wanted to give either Brodie or Gonzo away (never Jack. I would never give him away. He's the best dog ever).

We did good by Gonzo.

He was the smartest dumb dog I've ever known. His vocabulary was vast. He understood intonation and could never be tricked by being told one thing when we meant another. He was a master thief of anything left on the kitchen counter, and raided the garbage barrels in the house with unrelenting energy. We had to keep our trash up on shelves in the bathroom, and the kitchen trash locked up.

In the past couple years both he and Jack have slowed down. And then two weeks ago, Gonzo just slowed all the way down.

He died at home with Doug and Geoff by his side. Doug was going to take him to the vet, but then decided it would be too late even if they rushed there. So they patted him. Doug held him. He stopped breathing on the living room floor. And that was that.

This was a dog who loved to swim, who loved to get sticks, who would find tennis balls long lost under the couch and then try his hardest to get them. This was a dog who I think never really ever TASTED food. I called him Hoover, Kirby, Dyson... This was a dog who would bless me with his presence once in a while up on our bed or on the couch, and always took the right amount of real estate up without being a hog.  He hated fireworks and thunder. And he sure hated chickens one hot summer day in July when he and Geoff went for a walk at Farmer Matt's house.

It is weird to not be barked at when I come home, so that I can yell back "I live here, stupid!" at him and then scratch him on the head. I'm going to miss you, dopey dog.  Thanks for being my weird friend for all these years. You were a ton of fun.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Was it worth two cell phones and a key fob, and a little bit of dignity? Hell Yeah.

The long holiday weekend was upon us.

Geoff has been bored out of his mind stir-crazy since school got out. He wanted to apply for a job, and several places took his application but no one hired him. And in 2 weekends he's off to camp so it hardly seems worthwhile at this point for him to go get a summer job.

I was starting to feel awful, because my body hurts (mostly my legs, still) and I'm tired easily. I'm afraid this is the new normal for me. Since I got this job, which I do love and I love the money, and I'm happy there, I just haven't been able to make time to go to the gym. I miss Carrie, I miss riding the exercise bikes and bitching about everything with someone who gets it. I needed to get out and do something... fun.

Saturday morning I suggested to Doug that we go out on a canoe trip on the Ipswich River, take the "short" tour, rent one canoe so all 3 of us can go in it... just get out and have some fun. And I do love to canoe. I love it. I love not paddling and just sitting and looking at things. I love paddling to get away from things. I love when there is a challenging bit of river that you have to navigate through and work with your partner. It's fun.

And, it doesn't require my legs. While I'd love to go hike a mountain, or even a hill, I don't think that I can make it. It sucks.

So Doug agreed with me, we grabbed some sandwiches and a cooler, got a 6 pack of local beer, and headed to the put-in. We rented a canoe, I asked for a 17 ft canoe and they didn't have one so we got a 10 ft.  Which immediately was not a good idea but... we wanted to get out on the river!

We hopped in, pushed off, and started up the Ipswich. Beautiful day. Kind of a head wind, but with two paddlers working hard it's not a problem.

Until you start to approach the boughs of a tree hanging down over the water.

By "you" I mean "me."

I called back to Doug and said "Hey, Hey.... Um... we're going into some branches." And we did. And they weren't just branches that kind of whisk gently over your head, maybe knock your hat off. Make you giggle.

They were some serious fuck you in the face branches. And by "you" I mean... yeah.

The branch hit me in the face, and I grabbed it to kind of
  1. slow us down and 
  2. prevent it from swinging back and seriously smacking Geoff in the face, as he was the rider in the middle. 

The canoe didn't slow down, because Doug was paddling hard. So there's me holding on to the branch, which wasn't a branch it was a total huge tree part, and getting pulled OUT of the canoe, and that was when the whole canoe just went sideways.

And we all ended up in the water, with our stuff.

Now, without a sense of humor and the love for ridiculous, this would piss a lot of people off. Like my son. Who was livid. But ... no one got hurt (me a little, but the sting of the branch was quickly forgotten when I got dunked). No one was bleeding. And we were all standing chest deep in the river, a very gentle river, where no one was being washed away or drowning. The water was a lovely temperature, and no one laughed too hard at us as they paddled by.

We got the canoe righted and over to shore, dumped the water out and got back in.

We had a dry bag with us, inside my backpack.

Only, the only thing IN the dry bag was my camera. I had taken my cell phone out to start tracking the miles on the trip on, and I thought while I was paying for the canoe rental Doug had put his wallet, phone and keys in the dry bag. But he had not.


We continued on our journey, went a couple miles, had lunch. Doug's legs kept cramping up but I was perfectly happy and joyful... Geoff kept fearing that the canoe would spill again. It wasn't really built for 3 adults. More like 2 adults and one small child. But we made due, and it was beautiful.

 Our canoe loves us.
 My mountain men on the shore while we ate lunch. I stayed in the canoe.
 The only Green Heads that we had to think about, which for this season on the Ipswich River is a good thing!
 Our map got wet. And ruined.
 But ... it was so beautiful and tranquil...
This was the only traffic jam we sat through. 

We saw tons of wildlife. The dragonflies were outstanding, so many dancing along the water. Fish were jumping. There was a huge gaggle of geese, and we had to wait for them to "cross the road." Other canoes sat there too and little kids were losing their minds. It totally made me smile. A small beaver swam along ahead of us and then went under the river bank ahead of us. There were huge beautiful yellow finches in one of the trees just singing and dancing.

I'm glad we got the chaos and disorder over in the first five minutes of the trip and then could enjoy the rest of it not worrying about it happening.

We got to the car and our key fob was soaking wet so we couldn't unlock the car with it. Doug used the key, and we got in and closed the doors. When he started the car the alarm went off and we drove through Ipswich for a while with the horn beeping. This amused Geoff greatly.

The beeping stopped and we figured the car was happy. We stopped for gas and when Doug opened the car door the alarm went off again. Several people stopped what they were doing and stood there and gawked at us. So we just drove away. We got home, and got out of the car, where the alarm once again sounded... Doug finally got it semi-disconnected so it doesn't go off all the time.

The key fob dried out in a container of rice. But the horn keeps chirping and wanting to beep and go off full force. Oh, the humor. Until someone thinks we're beeping at them and gets out of traffic and comes and punches us in the face.

I had a great time canoeing... We'll go do this again, I'm sure. For as long as we've lived in this area, we've never gone down the Ipswich. Next time, we will rent kayaks and have them take us to Middleton to the launch site up there, and with a kayak, if you fall out or over or whatever, you're the only one responsible. No one can blame you for anything. And, everything will be in the dry bag, I promise.