The Straight Life

I am the regular lawn-mower at our house.

I used to think of it was a man-job, and didn’t really consider doing until my mom asked, somewhat scandalized, why I let Jay keep mowing the lawn when it attacks his allergies so badly.

He had this whole system of putting on long pants, tucking his cuffs into his socks, etc.  Then he still had to shower as soon as her finished if he didn’t want his eyes and skin to be itching horribly afterward.

Honestly, it never entered my mind, and I was happy to take over once I actually noticed.

It’s proven very nice for me too.  I am able to gift Jay with something important to him– a nice-looking lawn, and I get both necessary exercise and time to myself with my iPod (we always use hearing protection, and that goes a long way to putting me in my own little world).

Weekend before last I was mowing along listening to the playlist I have for one of my novels (I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve always loved ordering my music in a sort of home-made soundtrack for the stories in my head), and I came upon a dog-bomb I’d missed in my pre-mow sweep.

Thankful I’d seen it before I mowed it, I stopped the mower and found a shovel to clean up.  As I bent to collect the wad, a Kenny G song reached the vocalist part:

I was thinkin’ that I’d always be lonely but God came up with someone like you… Just to think I had made up my mind love was over…

And I had to laugh, of course.

In a perfect world, this is what all that romanticism leads to: the straight life.  The world where you push a mower once or twice a week all summer and pick up dog poop.

And God knows I wouldn’t want it any other way.

First sub-zero Walk

-6.2 degrees F on the thermometer when I got back.

And when I got back I realized I’d been wearing my expensive birthday-present earings on a cold walk in the soft snow.

It got my heart beating imagining having to look for one of them out in the dark.

Challenges “Needle in the haystack” with “Earring in the snowdrift.”

Persistence would find either one, but not usually before the cost/benefits ratio started jumping up and down waving at you.

I lost a very special ring one year after the first snow fall.  I still question the legitimacy, now, of calling on “found ring” ads on the random chance I’d find it again.

We have a dog again.

Chocolate lab, already semi-trained, 3-years-old and loves to cuddle.

The girls adore her and we’re teaching Elisha that “long-suffering” does *not* equal asking for more suffering.

I am so thankful to have found her.

The short story: We’ve been looking at the shelter a couple times a week the last few months.  We’ve looked at a number of dogs (even tried two out in our home: one for a few hours one for almost two weeks), but this is the one who is fitting.

She was an owner surrender with “not enough time for her” listed as the reason for giving her up.  She had a restless first night and barks more willingly than we like just now, but she has been perfect with the kids, strangers and the other dogs we’ve met in class and at the dog park.

So long… Farewell…

So we’ve had to end this dog-round-2.

Reasons we could give, but that’s the conclution.

Two nights ago after the new home was nearly confirmed I told the girls.  Melody was impassive, but Natasha was very sad.  Distressed.

I told her what I could, and felt how unhappy she was about it.  And prayed about it.  Thought a lot (and asked advice) about what else to say.

Came up with nothing.  Kept praying.

Next morning Natasha got up and, very cheerful and lucid (she’s not normally a morning person), explained that she was very sad last night but she thought about it and had a dream, and was thinking about it and now she knows that Shadow just has to go.

“Because, she’s just, got to go.” She gesticulated with her open hands and made that self-conscious grin and the half-laugh she gives when she’s testing the waters about being more grown-up.

Just like that.  The most simple, basic answer to prayer I could have gotten.

God is so good.

Training some more

Shadow started retrieving this afternoon.

She progressed from simply chasing a ball (which she wasn’t doing three days ago) to picking it up, to carrying it around, and eventually to bringing it back near me (to me is a little more precise than she’s yet mastered).

Have I mentioned Elisha can throw now? About a foot. It’s adorable. It makes him feel very grown-up, especially when he’s playing with Daddy.

We were playing in the front yard and Shadow came and lay between us. She kept leaning over to pick up the ball after he threw it, and he’d crawl to her (I swear he was exasperated with her: That’s not for you.) and take it out of her mouth.

I was right there the whole time and was impressed with them both, his fearlessness (purposeful but not mean) and her compliance.

At one point I threw a ball across the yard and Shadow just stayed panting in the shade. Elisha looked from me, to the dog, to the ball and booked over to get the ball himself. He was almost there when Shadow seemed to realize he was serious and trotted off after him.

He sat up and looked at her when she came even with him, then turned his back and collected the ball he was after. Shadow went over and picked up a different ball nearby.

In all this Shadow has never tried to challenge Elisha’s “authority” and is gaining great points of confidence from me.

She’s also seeming like more fun as she’s becoming interactive and available more more than snuggles or belly rubs.

Settling In

Well, it’s been nearly a week and Shadow is finding a rhythm.

She has perked up a bit and shown more interest in exercise and the world around her. She’s also begun playing with her toys– mouthing some rings and tossing a soft ball around. No “serious” chewing since I gave her the knuckle bone, but she is showing a penchant for used tissue, which was something Tilly used to do that always grossed Jay out.

I am very thankful for whatever work her last home did in kennel-training her.

I put her in when I got to bed or when I leave the house for a couple hours. She settles right down, and even when I’m up in the night with the baby she generally figures out this doesn’t involve her and she doesn’t beg to get out.

Posted in Dog

Still Getting Old…

Jay expressed concern about his fitness level while he was gone, highlighting in particular the hip that seemed inflamed the morning after a brisk, 2-hour walk.

I pitied him, but attributed it (in part, at least) to his sedentary job. Mine keeps me moving enough I shouldn’t run into that stiffness problem myself.


Two days ago I walked Shadow on my own, wearing Elisha. I think I was hoping the walk would put him to sleep. It didn’t.

I woke yesterday morning with my right hip stiff and sore. I attributed this to waking faster than before with the extra 20-pounds on my back.

Monday night, when I got home, both my calves felt pretty tight. I was reminded I aught to strech before every exercise at my age. Even a simple walk.

But then on a day like yesterday most of me feels pretty tight and uncomfortable.

Jay asked for the first time post-Shadow if this was really the right time to have a dog, and I, who felt the dog might have been the only bright spot in my day (it was Jay, not me, who found the partially-chewed roll of USPS stamps) said today was not a good day to make that evaluation.

So yesterday was my fourth day in a row to get out on a walk. Some kind of record, it feels like. Shadow is gaining confidence next to the loud expressway, and has learned to ignore passing bicyclists.

Her energy-level seems to be picking up too, and I wonder if it’s her new, “high-quality” food or the regular outlet for energy that’s perking her up.

I was initially wondering if she’d ever be interested in jogging (I think she is now) and now I’m wondering how she might do with a bike– though that would be later in the summer when we know each other better.

Whatever’s causing it she’s definitely becoming more interested in moving, and I may end up getting that no-pull walking harness soon, since she’s becoming less responsive (or, maybe “selectively responsive”) to her collar on these evening walks.

Posted in Dog