Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Couch Canines



When Lucas has done something wrong, well, when Lucas has been caught doing something wrong, he hides under the table. This is his retreat, his go-to place of security, and it is also where he goes when something has happened he doesn’t understand. When Lillith arrived he spent some time under the table trying to sort out what it meant to have a puppy in the house, but he adapted really fast. After a couple of days of unease they started playing together and now they’re inseparable. A better match I could not have hoped for and so far I’ve been very lucky when it comes to new dogs and the old pack.

Now there is trouble.

Lucas can’t sleep on top of me anymore. There just isn’t a position we can find where a dog that weighs over one hundred pounds can sleep on the sofa with me that doesn’t involve some discomfort on my part. I can sit up and he can sleep beside me that way, but as far as Lucas having part of his body on mine squeezed together on the sofa it just doesn’t work anymore. He has sharp elbows. His feet are the size of some of the smaller New England States. He’s a moose. And when Lucas shifts in his sleep some part of that mass shift too, and usually there’s a part of my body that doesn’t like it.

Sunday afternoon he was crowding me off the sofa, after keeping up me half the night with Lillith, so I shooed him off the sofa and that really hurt his feelings. I tried to get him to shift down to the end of the sofa, or in front of me, but no, he has to be between me and the back of the sofa, and partially on me. So off the sofa he went and under the table he goes, to show me that he’s wounded. It got worse because here of recent, Lillith has decided she’s a Daddy’s Girl Dog. She’s beginning want to spend time with me. Lillith has always a little aloof, but I think that has mostly sprung from shyness. Sunday, for the first time ever, she invited herself onto the sofa with me, and she fits very nicely at my side. Lucas came out from under the table to give me the same look a man might give his best friend, upon finding him in bed with his daughter.
Meanwhile Sam, who I cannot drag up onto the sofa, comes up and wants to be a sofa-dog too. If the new puppy gets up on the sofa then Sam wants to get up on the sofa. Yet Sam won’t. He’s put his front paws up but that is far as he will go, ever. So Lucas tries to get on the sofa and tries to lie down on top of Lillith, squashing his competition, literally. Okay, okay, everyone on the floor, no one up on the sofa but me, go lie down.
All of this is well and good, but now Lucas is refusing to play with Lillith. Lillith tries to Bitey face with Lucas but he hides under the table and looks like he’s just found out he’s been fired by the boss’s girlfriend. I put everyone on the outside and get back to watching the game. I fall asleep.
The human mind is an odd thing, a really odd thing, because when I wake up the game is in its final seconds. It registers with me who has won the game and how. The receiver was out of bounds because his hand landed there. But my mind also gives up on time and date. I see that it is six-thirty something and my mind tells me that it is Monday morning, and I am late for work. Panic sets in. I pick my cell phone up to call work and tell them I’ll be late and I realize that there cannot be a game ending and me late for work.


The dogs want in.

I go out instead and order is somewhat restored. The L’s play as if nothing bad has ever happened, but I do realize things are changing. Lillith is heading out of puppyhood and she’s trying to find her way into the pack. Her behavior is nothing short of her learning from Lucas. He has always positioned himself beside me, at every chance, and now she wants to be Lucas, too. Lillith is growing up to be who Lucas and I have trained her to be. Neither of us should be surprised at this. In fact, we both should be overjoyed. There are much worse things to have than two animals like Lucas.

The question is one of practicality versus position. It’s too big of a problem for me to let Lucas on the sofa and Lillith fits nicely, but I have to find a way to have a sofa dog without being crushed or uncomfortable. I can’t let Lucas feel slighted and I can’t let Lillith feel as if she isn’t a full member of the pack. All of this is exactly that; Lillith wants to me to assure her of her place and Lucas wants the same thing.

The question for any pet owner is one of what you are willing to sacrifice in order for your pets to be happy. I could just banish Lucas the Large from the sofa and let him pout while I cuddle with Lillith the Little. I could invoke the old rule which was no dogs on the sofa at all, but that seems unlikely now that both of them have discovered how comfortable it is up there. I think I might have to give up lying down on the sofa and just letting Lucas have one end and Lillith have the other. Oh, but to lie there and watch a football game on a very cold day is heaven.

I’m thinking about getting another dog. That does sound nuts given the current state of chaos, but what’s one more chaos? Sam is slowly entering his dotage and three dogs seem to be the number that works here. I know what happens when I start looking for a dog. It happens every time.

Take Care,
Mike

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why are the dogs eating stir fry steak with fresh veggies and brown rice while I’m eating tuna out of a can?

Man, I had everything rocking and rolling then I lifted the pan off the stove and the handle broke clean off.

I was going to use the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Dammit.


But the dogs are happy. I just have to mop the kitchen floor tonight, not that it hasn't been licked clean.

I just separated my diner into three piles on the floor and NOM NOM NOM!


It's amazing how they can have a sense of space and what belongs to who in a kitchen they aren't allowed to come into on a regular basis.

Take Care,
Mike



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Moonlight and Mutts. Urine Trouble Now






Cool weather and moonlight means jacked up mutts. There is something about being able to see outside at night that makes dogs stoned as hell. They think it’s a miracle. They think it’s an event. It happens once a month or so for three or four days and they think it’s the second coming of the Anubis, the Jackal headed god. They go out at ten and Lillith stays out while her older brothers come in. I lay in bed trying to drift off to sleep but Lucas wants to go out and look for Lillith. The door is open but he wants me to...do something.

Lillith comes in and she doesn’t get up on the bed and I don’t worry about it. Lucas wants to sleep right next to me all the time and Sam feels slighted if Lucas is on the bed without him. It’s rather warm for two dogs but I really do not feel like arguing with them. I start to drift off to sleep and Lillith decides she wants to join us.

Lucas feels obligated to try to push Lillith off the bed sometimes and that starts the two of them tussling for position. I get them both settled down but suddenly, Sam starts barking, in his sleep, and kicking. Bitey Face begins because of this. I settle them down, wake Sam up and he snarks at Lucas. Little wants to know what the fight is about and Bitey Face begins because of this. I kick them all off the bed.

They run out into the back yard as if aliens have just landed, with treats. They cross the deck as if they’re a herd of water buffalo who smoke hash and eat marshmallows. Truly, it sounds like there are a dozen dogs running out there. Bitey Face begins in the backyard, replete with wild hippo noises. Sam barks at the L’s as if he’s trying to tell them I’m trying to sleep. This isn’t working. I call them in and make them sleep on the floor.

At some point Lucas slips into bed with me without me knowing it. Sam used to be able to do this when he was younger. I think they time it in the middle of a toss or turn so there already motion going on. I have no idea how he does it but he does. Lucas gets on the bed and suddenly I’m getting pushed out. I sit up which invites Sam to join us. I lay back down, and think about getting up when Lillith leaps on the bed to give me an emergency face cleaning. Lucas doesn’t like this and he wants to push her away.
I get them settled down and they thump their tails on the bed. This is like some weird tequila induced rap beat that echoes off the box springs. Lilith’s tail is long and she wags much slower than Lucas. Lucas’ tail operates like a BB in a metal can. Lucas rolls over upside down and starts licking Lillith’s face. Kissy face! Kissy face! Lillith kisses him back and I feel like I’m in High School with two people making out in the car while I drive. I mean, damn. But the love doesn’t last because Bitey Face breaks out and it’s not just Bitey Face but Epic Bitey Face at the O Fortuna Level.

Am I an evil person? Is this why I am punished like this? Am I destined to sleep two, maybe three hours a night until my brain just explodes? I have to duck under the pillow when they roll over on top of me, either one of them snapping and snarling as if they were fighting for the existence of their species. Everybody off the bed. Everybody go  lie down. The clock stares out at me like the red eye of Sauron. I have to get a clock with a blue or a green read out, I swear the red is evil at this time of morning. Lucas gets up on the bed and Sam follows. Lillith gets on the bed and plops down, as if this is a sign she is willing to sleep.

I have to pee.

Urine is a bitch. There’s no negotiation, there is no bargaining, and it can and it will wait you out. Urine is going to come out of your body and convenience isn’t an issue. Sleep isn’t an issue. You can be out in the middle of the woods on the very coldest day of the year and you’re still going to have to touch something with hand you don’t want in your pockets they’re so cold. Urine demands that I get up so I do. The dogs follow. They think it’s time to go out so they head for the door. I let them out and leave the door open. Just start reading this from the beginning and get back to this point, and we’ll continue because it all happened again.

The air cools as dawn approaches and the dogs become, finally, sleepy. Lucas coils up, giving me more room, and Lillith sleep in a tight bundle at my feet, snoring softly. Sam is silently chasing something, twitching his leg, but finally, I’m drifting off into sleep again. This is the time of year when things slow down outside. The mosquitoes aren’t out at night anymore. The snakes aren’t seen early in the day or late in the day anymore. Dawn gets here later and sunset comes earlier. It’s less than two months before the Solstice and winter is already showing in very small ways. I can feel my body relaxing and reality begins to blend with odd thoughts. I can see a road sigh, green and white, in my mind, but can’t read the letters. I’ll nap later today. I’ll catch up on my sleep during a ball game or after lunch. But it is nearly time to get up now and get a few thoughts down while they’re still here with me.

Take Care,
Mike

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Vision Of Waves







I lay looking at the ceiling and wondered about life.  If you take a pebble and toss it into a very still pond then you can watch the ripples move away from the point of splash and then like micro tsunamis, head in every direction away from the epicenter. If there is an obstacle, let’s say a stick in the water then the pattern changes, chaos is introduced and the pattern is less defined than it was before.  But what if you were blind? You might toss a random pebble and hear a tiny splash but you’d never know what ripples went where, and that led me to wonder; even with sight what else might we be missing when we take some action, ever so slight?
Suppose instead of sight you perceived waves of motion regardless of how they were created. Bats do this with sound waves and whales do it underwater with sound, so all you have to imagine is some organ developed to detect waves and some method to produce the waves.  Were this a reality the ocean’s shores might be some incredibly wonderful sensory experience, even more so than it already is.  Imagine the first wave based creatures who would dare an ocean with giant waves. It would be like sailing into the sun for sight based creatures.
So what if these wave based creatures evolved to be incredibly fragile by our own standards and they communicated by slightly higher of slightly lower pressure waves with amplitude and frequency for the expression of emotion. Suppose these creatures lived on a world where the environment was so stable they needed slight and easy structures, miles high yet as delicate as rice paper. Their spires would reach high into their atmosphere and these creatures would rise and fall on the very slightest winds that occurred so rarely.
Imagine the works of art that could be created of waves across a plane suspended by waves and across that plane emotions of all sorts of any one of their kind chose to contribute.  Indeed, there would be sites where students of history of the wave creatures echoed time and time again the past story of their species, with their headmaster looking over their shoulders, so anyone might learn of their pasts, near and distant. All of them, their religion and culture and art, everything recorded in an ocean of waves, each as easy to translate to the denizens of that world as these words are to you.

But nothing good lasts forever and far too soon alien creatures would land, blasting the surface of the planet with their fire and pressure. Whole subcultures would disappear into ash and dust. The peaceful creatures who had never known war had never built a weapon and never shed blood in anger would perish from despair. Defenseless they would die by the trillions as the invaders trampled history into dust and shattered the fragile planes of communication.
But it’s a misunderstanding, really. The humans landing on the alien planet have no method by which they might discern the creatures’ existence, very much like the blind man who cannot see the ripples in the pond. They blunder down to the surface in ecstatic celebration and know nothing of the devastation upon which they have wrought upon an entire race.
Yes, as I lay looking at the ceiling, I have these thoughts, while lying on the floor. Lillith dove between myself and the counter, in order to escape the charging Loki Mutt and Lucas followed. He knocked a small footstool into me, overturning the stool, creating an unbalance, and I went down flat. I never did lose consciousness but I knew better than try to stand right away. The dogs came and licked me, then settled down around my prone body, with Lucas, contrite, near my head, and Sam at my feet. Lillith took up position beside Lucas, and they waited. No more zoomies in the house. New rule. My vision is a little fuzzy and my head hurts.

But my dog what a great story that came out of this!

Take Care,
Mike

Monday, October 22, 2012

IT PUTS THE LOTION IN THE BASKET!



Okay it was a very long and very stressful day because a month ago I told someone, ‘We need to send these reports in” and that person said, “No, I was told we didn’t” so I emailed someone and asked, “Do we need these reports sent in?” and I never got an answer so no reports were sent in. Now, a month later, someone calls me and says, “Where are those reports you were supposed to send in?” And now I have to track down a month’s worth of information to get the reports in.
In the meantime, since last week there has been someone hounding me for some paperwork. It’s vital. It’s doomsday stuff. The fabric of the Universe will be rent asunder if this paperwork isn’t rushed through, please, for the love of dog, the lives of my grandchildren and heaven itself hangs in the balance, please, please, please, can you do this for me by Monday. So I do. It takes some doing but yes, I can help someone in need.  First thing Monday morning, I will be there, waiting for you, yes, please oh please. 

I do not hear from this guy at all. Then I call him. I call him. Oh, we won’t need that until Wednesday.

Okay. So after work I go to the Y. I need a good work out. There is a woman in street clothes standing on an elliptical talking on a cell phone. I ask, “Are you going to use that machine?” and she says, “No, I’m saving it for someone.”  Now that pisses me off but there is no real need for some sort of conflict so I get on a treadmill and crank it up. About thirty minutes deep into the workout the woman on the phone simply leaves. Two minutes later someone gets on it and just stands there looking out into space, the final frontier.

So now, after putting some miles down, I feel better. But there is a young man talking to a young woman and she is leaning on my truck. He’s throwing down here. This is a young man bent on talking this woman into something and she’s lapping it up. Dude, you’ve never been that funny in your life and she’s giggling at every word, ask her out, be done with it! But he doesn’t close the deal. I listen to a song on my MP3 player and then approach them.
“Hi!” I say.
“Uh, hello” the young woman says and the guy hesitates.
“Oh, are you Dez’s father?” And he sticks out his hand.
“No, this is my truck.” I tell him and he looks befuddled. (Dez has broken down in laughter, presumably over the look on my face)
The guy looks around and sure enough, he has a red truck. But his is a Ford and looks nothing like mine. Speaking of red, he turns that color while trying to look cool getting the girl away from my truck. You’ve blown that one, son.

So off to the grocery store. I’ve just worked out. I will buy healthy food and I will have a healthy supper. I need some kale. Kale is good stuff in a salad, especially for those of us who have been mistaken for fathers today. Her father? Where in the hell did that come from? Do I look that fatherly? But there parked in front of the kale was a  woman with a shopping cart and a three year old. She has a cart full of stuff but apparently she was thinking of getting the three year old her own credit card because the three year old had one of those plastic basket, neatly as large as the child, and the woman was trying to talk the child into putting produce in the basket. But instead, the child takes some hand lotion out of the basket it and puts it on the shelf with the spinach.
“No, no, baby put the lotion back in the basket baby.” But the child refuses to listen. The woman is bent, intent, driven, and obessessed with that little girl putting the hand lotion into the plastic basket.  This went on for nearly as long as Anna Nalick’s  “Catalyst”. After nearly four minutes of baby baby put the lotion back in the basket my mouth opened. The words formed. The breath was given to the words.

I walked away.

Hence my facebook status update, “IT PUTS THE LOTION IN THE BASKET!”

I really couldn’t quote a fictitious serial killer to a three year old. But I had to say it, I just had to say it.

Take Care,
Mike

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The L's I Say!







The two L’s, Lucas and Lillith,  have developed a system for chasing that begins just inside the back door. Unfortunately for Sam and myself, this system precludes the safety and welfare of all other living creatures. The L’s both bolt out of the back door at the same time, each pushing the other and flailing around as if being first to the ground, if not landing on all four feet, is something that will be rewarded. I am very certain I have never rewarded Backdoor Bolting unless it involves a security system. I’ve learned to wait but Sam wants to compete. This is an eleven year old dog who’s got spindly Greyhound legs. It isn’t going to end well.

Holding Sam back makes him feel bad and makes him feel old and weak. If I hold onto him and let the L’s run he’ll chase after then and snark at Lillith when he catches her, as if to show me he can still dominate someone. The thing is this; he can’t. The first thing is I don’t let the dogs, any of my dogs, ever, “settle it among themselves”.  The Bringer of Dog Food will start any fights than need to be started and he sure as hell is going to end any others that pop up. I don’t mind a snarl or a growl here and there but if there will be blood someone is going to explain to me why this is. Moreover, Lucas has now twice walked between Sam and Lillith when Sam was has tried to start a fight with her. Lucas simply walks between them, pushing Sam back as he does. He doesn’t growl and his hair stays down, but those ears go up and that tail has some spring to it.

I don’t think Sam is going to fight Lucas. I think he knows better. I hope he knows better.


I’ve allowed Lucas to interfere because he’s not being the aggressor. He’s merely giving Sam a larger target. Lillith seems to understand that Sam isn’t a viable toy and she does understand when the two older dogs face one another she shouldn’t be within fang range. Lucas is the one dog I have ever loved that has never started a fight. I once watched him face down both Bert and Sam in battle before I could stop it, and Lucas, who was still quite young, executed a slow fighting retreat that kept either of his brothers from getting close to him. Sam wanted to press the issue that day and got popped on his nose for being snarky after I told him to stop. Lucas got tagged by one of them in that, and his shoulder was bleeding but Lucas seemed to realize his youth and size was something of consequence. Not once in his life, no matter how young or how small, however, has Lucas accepted the idea that any other dog belonged closer to me than he.

I keep Sam in when the two L’s are playing outside because both are prone to high speed collision. Sam doesn’t like this at all, but I’ve tricked him into thinking it’s a plot so that he can get more ear pettings. Sam likes his ears being petted and will lean into it and make happy dog noises. 



Sam will watch the L’s from the window and I can tell he misses being able to roughhouse like he once could. Sam and Bert played hard and forever. They grew old together, with each matching the other in loss of agility and intensity. It wasn’t until Lucas arrived until I realized how bad Bert had gotten. I knew it was bad, but he had very little of the wildness he once had. Bert was a furry demon when we played in the yard. He nicked me on the face once, because I head butted him in his face, and it was entirely my fault. I could tell he wasn’t happy I was bleeding and I let him lick the blood away until it stopped bleeding. The next time we started playing he licked me on the wound, as if to tell me he wouldn’t do it again, and he never did.

I can’t have that sort of physical relationship with Lucas. There is far too much dog in there and not enough of me. We play, and we play hard, but I can’t toss him about like I did Bert. Bert knew if I could grab him I could flip him and pin him. I can grab Lucas but it’s like grabbing a mountain. I can’t lift him very easily and when he’s a mind to do it, he just pushes me back with his mass. This isn’t an average sized dog or even a average large dog. Lucas is muscle and he’s a full frontal assault brawler.

The cool part is I recognize some of Bert’s tricks in Lucas. Bert would stop, pretend to be acting his breath or put his ears up as if he heard something, and rush in if I tried to stand up or if I turned my head. Lucas hasn’t got the guile yet, but he knows what he’s trying to do.

Lillith is learning. She and I don’t play together very much because she is still very shy around me. She loves to be petted and she will come if I call her, but she rarely approaches me straight on. She will sit about ten feet from me and wait until I tell her to come closer. I think it’s her way of being polite. Lillith likes being asked. She will stand in front of her food bowl and look at me until I tell her it’s okay. There’s little stopping her once she starts eating, but I have to coax her sometimes.

Lillith and Sam will share sleeping space; body warmth is something they love. She tries to nuzzle Sam but he snarks at her when she does. This is Sam’s second puppy and the first one is still around. I think Sam wonders if there will be more, and I wonder too.

Take Care,
Mike