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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

 

I am so envious of my friends here and my friends out there in the blog-us-fear who manage to organize closets and drawers and even garages during this evil Pandemic.

How clever you are to use your time away from society so wisely.

I must say I think about organizing things.

I have thought about the closet now for at least four months.  In fact, I stand in it every day and assess the situation.  There are the shoes in haphazard piles and the winter clothes still not packed away.

It’s almost winter again anyway right?  I have forgotten since I do not frequent the stores anymore who used to let me know about the changing seasons.

Oh yes, there was a catalog reminding about Halloween.

Is it Halloween yet?

I think about all our 40 Photo albums too.

There is a whole big cabinet dedicated to the old non-digital touchy-feely photographs collected over my own lifetime and the lifetimes of my parents and Bill’s siblings who have all since passed.  There are many shots of roads or trees or other unidentified scenery.  And lots of unrecognizable people and many with no dates. 

My inherent need to organize draws me to that cabinet over and over again but I never open the doors.  The job is simply too overwhelming to contemplate.

I also think about the garage alot.  I have to go through the garage to take Elsa-the-dog for a walk and we pause en route so I can think about how to organize things.

There are all those leaves that blew in last Autumn and maybe I should get the leaf blower out and take care of that first.

But then there are all those loose things and tools we never use anymore, and rusty stuff.  Maybe we should look into renting a big rubbish bin.  Never mind, “Come on Elsa.  Let’s go this way.”  And off we go out of the garage.

Uh oh!  I find myself out in the green green world.  But the green is not always well manicured lawns.  The green is really enormous weeds that have taken over every flower bed and the gravel driveway.  If I think too much about the work to be done in my green green world, I tend to hurry home with Elsa after she has done her bit to fertilize the earth.

There is so much to do.

There is so much to think about doing.

To do or not to do is the question.

But I prefer to think about it.

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20200529_144413

We have our little rescue dog for almost two years now!

She is still an enigma, a bundle of odd behaviors and idiosyncracies.

Here is Elsa.  And if you are a dog psychologist, maybe you can explain who she really is. 

Bathroom Pleasures:  You have your place and I have mine!

We have acres of grassy lawn but Elsa prefers to water the small rock bed just outside the front door.

There is a surprising benefit from this odd preference.  Since no weed can survive Elsa’s acid rain for long, the rock bed stays her pristine and weed free watering place.

Maybe in her previous lifetimes she was walked on leash in a neighborhood of homes and chastised for going on a neighbor’s grass.

Play? 

Huh?

Elsa does not play, will not fetch a ball or anything else, and has no apparent interest in stuffed squeaky animals or even treat-stuffed toys.   Squeak a toy at her and she will turn away as if to say, “Stop hurting that poor little thing!”  Throw a ball and she will watch its trajectory without moving a muscle.

No!  No!  Nooooo!!!!!  Not the Car!!!!!!

Elsa does not enjoy riding in the car.  She acts excited pre-entry, but once inside,  hunkers down to shiver and shake in fear.  Fear of what?  Why doesn’t she look out the window or enjoy the breeze in her face like other dogs do?

Most times Bill drives and I ride in back with Elsa, who promptly puts her head in my lap and shakes and shivers.

Yes it is true! The Sky is falling.

Our poor little pup is terrified of thunder, airplanes, rain, far off traffic noises, falling branches, gunshots, firecrackers, and more.  She is under my desk as I write this (shaking and shivering).  I am sure she thinks the sky will fall because she is constantly looking to crawl under something.

 If I am quiet will they come?

She is quiet and respectful of visiting deer, squrrels, groundhogs, birds or rabbits and never barks at them even when they get wind of her and begin to flee.

I have never had a dog who didn’t enjoy barking at visiting creatures, especially when they turn and run.

Well, she does bark at people (who I consider the most predatory anyway) and she did bark at that bear who came through.

I think she thinks protecting me from truly dangerous looking intruders is her real job.

The Lady-Who-Limps Saved Me.  I will never leave her side.

Oddest of all, Elsa prefers my somewhat droll sedentary company to any other living thing.  She rarely leaves my side and has evidently decided I am the only human who counts.

I totally agree with that last assessment of course.

And I enjoy the adoration until she follows me into my own non-rock bathroom.

Are you inviting me to get up there on that sofa with you?  What will happen to me THEN?

There are times I would really love it if Elsa would jump on the couch or the bed, just for a hug.  But even when I invite her, she refuses.

It is probably a good thing that she is never on the furniture since she is a prolific shedder.  Again, I suspect she had some harsh training to keep her off the furniture. No amount of cajoling will entice her up, even in a thunder storm when she really wants to be cuddled.

I think I kinda like it here!

What Bill and I notice lately though is a more trusting happy dog who does a whole lot of tail wagging (on those occasions when she isn’t shaking in fear of something benign).

Elsa is full of strange behaviors and habits and fears, but maybe aren’t we all?

She is a little bit off, a little imperfect, a lot insecure, but aren’t we all?

It will be a two year anniversary soon and we think Elsa knows this is her safest place and where she lives with her most ardent fans.

And we know we will always be warned of visiting bears and unknown humans, and we are serene in the knowledge she will tell us when the sky is falling too.

 

 

 

 

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Many steps from house to pool.

Thirty years ago, when we built our little house in the country, we had an in-ground pool installed at the same time.

I insisted we live by water and Bill insisted on a woodstove instead of a fireplace.  It was a compromise.

The end result was a heavy-duty woodstove in the middle of the living room and a swimming pool!

As it turned out, that woodstove grew on me, maybe because it saved our lives through many a frigid winter.

And the pool meant happy memories with our son and the grandgirls, friends who visited, and our two golden retrievers who loved anything water.  Swimming in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has always seemed to me to be the ultimate luxury.

Oh, and I forgot – there was once a horse in our pool, but that is another story.

But now (due to sheltering in place from Covid-19)  we are pretty much the only swimmers.  We invite Elsa-the-dog to join in but she is suspicious of so much water.

On July 3rd I was determined to get into the old pool and paddle around as a prelude to celebrating Independence Day 2020.  A swim would also be good for Old BigFoot.

But as enticing as it is, getting to the pool is now an enormous challenge.  Navigating all those steps is out of the question since there are many steps down, and the only other way (I thought) was walking down over uneven terrain.

Then there were the endless preparations… What to take…

  •  A water dish for Elsa.  Treats for Elsa.  A leash for Elsa.
  • Towells, walking stick (cane), suntan oil, bug repellent, sunglasses, first aid supplies.
  • How to get down there.  The pool is not far if you can walk.  May as well be to the moon for BigFoot.
  • Bill to the rescue!   “We will take the car!” said he.  And Elsa jumped into the backseat thinking it was another ride.
  • And off we went for a one minute drive around the house to wind up at the pool.

It was an unceremonious but successful arrival. 

Elsa would not even consider getting near the water.

Instead she began tentative explorations and found shady spots (to shelter in place).  In fact she found a cave under one of the big evergreen bushes where she was cool, hidden from danger, and could watch for bears in case the peeps needed protection.

BigFoot loved the swim and was already plotting how to get down there again without the mortification of being driven! 

The only concern is that Bruno-the-Bear or his sister would decide to join in, but there is always Elsa for protection.

Do you think she would emerge from her new private dog-cave-digs to scare off another bear? 

 

 

 

 

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July 4, 2020 – Elsa-the-Dog reduced to shaking and shivering due to distant fireworks.

July 5, 2020 – More shaking and shivering due to close-up thunder storms

July 7, 2020 – Hysterical barking at 2:30AM.

Yes, I was awakened at 2:30AM by Elsa-the-Dog’s loud screaming/barking.  She NEVER does that.  She is a sound and happy sleeper and only sends the alarm bark during daytime hours when the UPS man emerges.

Since it was a hysterical bark

there had to be something amiss.

Elsa and I began a flashlight search of the house.  It was a full moon and we could see silver images through the windows so we were checking the outside too.  Bill was blissfully sound asleep.

Was it the bear visiting again and

rustling around somewhere near?

I thought maybe it could even be human

and what would I do then?

Was someone trying to get in?

After a room by room search Elsa and I went back to bed.  We just got comfortably tucked in when she began the hysterical barking again.  This was definitely her alarm bark to signal intruders!

Another search ensued to no avail and we finally gave up at 4:30 AM.  But I kept thinking and thinking while Elsa and Bill were then fast asleep.

A sunny day today and this morning I peeked into our attached garage from the relative safety of the mudroom/laundry.  The garage was the one place we missed in our moonlight search.

Whoa!  There was the answer to Elsa’s warnings.  There were torn pieces of something white and a hunk of the drywall ripped out.  Some critter was trying hard to create an exit.

Still no idea what it was but it must have got in when the automatic door stayed open as Bill went to get the mail yesterday.  That gave the Crazie Critter time and  opportunity to explore.

“Hey – this looks like a grand place to raise a family!”

“On the other hand, maybe not.”

“Now how did I get in here in the first place?”

“Wasn’t that big door open a minute ago?”

“I’ll just sit here quietly until dark

and then find my way out.”

“Lemme Out!  Lemme Out! Lemme Out!”

Elsa heard it all and warned her human pack that something was amiss.  She just wasn’t sure where.

I will never doubt her warning barks again.  She knows what she’s talking about and she is now my Super Hero.

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Homeward Bound

Some eons ago, when I was a little girl my parents took us kids out for Sunday drives.  Those were always exciting times with donuts as the grand finale.

My parents are long gone, but some of those sweet memories resurface, especially since there has been ample time to reflect on past pleasures.

Nowadays Bill takes Elsa-the-dog and me for “rides in the car.”  I think he thinks we need a change of scene and he is so right.  These outings expand our world beyond the walls that bind us since Bill and I are among the most vulnerables to the Corona Virus.

Elsa gets beyond excited when we ask, “Wanna go for a ride in the car?”  She dashes back and forth barking and whining and eagerly jumps in.  But the sad thing is, Elsa does not know how to enjoy life as a dog.   She immediately hunkers down as if to hide from imminent danger, rarely looks out the window, and shakes and shivers with her head in my lap no matter where we may wander.

Because she is so frightened I ride in the back seat with her, and off we go, with Bill as the Chauffeur.

 Elsa does sit up but only if the car stops.  That gives her a window view of sorts with glimpses of an alien world fraught with terror.

  • Sometimes Bill stops at an ATM machine and when he gets out, Elsa goes mad with worry – crying and howling in despair that we have lost a pack member to the insane outside world
  • The parking lot of Walmart is always interesting too.  We went there to see if the GoodWill drop was still open (and it was).  Elsa began whining in anticipation of further pack loss, but we had not brought our donations and we all stuck together inside the relative safety of the car.
  • The Sheetz gas station is colorful too and very scary indeed.  Last time we were there a mask-less fellow was filling up next to us, right by my open window.  Suddenly he began yelling at a friend who was some distance away.  Being Covid-19- paranoid I feared I might contract the virus from his unmasked yelling vapors (so I held my breath)!  I wonder why the CDC has not recommended holding your breath as a preventative measure.
  • Another time we drove to Buena Vista (the nearest little town) and we saw whole families out walking with little kids skipping alongside. None of them were wearing masks either (not the parents, kids or dogs) but they were single family units out in the fresh air.  It was a heartwarming slice of Americana but maybe Elsa has the right idea about hunkering down and avoiding even looking out the window.
  • And our last ride in the car was around our own neighborhood where we saw a new neighbor’s house being built – a lovely A-frame log home atop a hill.

We are hoping Elsa will become accustomed to our outings and will some day enjoy the wind in her hair and the sights (other than a yelling man and an ATV machine) through the window.

In any case, I will remember these precious times, these spontaeous rides, these family/pack trips during a serious pandemic.  They were Bill’s idea for a change of scene that has now become a happy tradition.

How about you?

Wanna go for a ride in the car?

 

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20200612_200108

It was 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon when Elsa-the-Dog begged to go out on the deck. She loves just looking around her “estate” from the safety of the rails and rungs.

So out we went to sit in the shade of the eaves and contemplate sudden fair weather.  Surely the wispy breeze and floods of sunshine would make us safe from the dreaded virus.

As I was about to doze off, Elsa suddenly sprang to life and trotted to a corner of the deck.  She likes to chase bumble bees and I thought that was her goal.

But then she zipped over to the opposite end and then zipped back.  She was definitely on the alert and straining to look in one direction through the rails and I too looked in that direction to see what all the fuss was about.

What I saw was a very large VERY LARGE Virginia Black Bear who was ambling along the edge of our woods.  He had obviously been at both ends below our deck and was certainly interested in my hummingbird feeder!

About the time I put this all together in my slowly emerging brain, Elsa was growling and barking, and the BIG BEAR began to run.  Thankfully, it was running away and not toward us.  Elsa kept up a loud piercing bark that I think made her seem to be a giant adversary instead of a little twerp of a dog.

And the VERY LARGE bear ran all the way out of sight and into the forest.

Thank you Elsa-the-Dog for your grand big-dog bark and for your courage in sounding the alarm.  You are my heroine!

Anyway, who said sheltering in place is not exciting?

 

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I can never resist writing about our little dog of course.  I rescued Elsa and talked to her and stroked her on the long ride home.  And now, over a year later, she never leaves my side.  Well she does go out with Bill but jumps on me first for permission and then comes running back as if I might disappear while she is selfishly “doing her business.”

20200529_144413

Elsa has a whole array of idiosyncracies, no doubt leftover from experiences with previous owners.

  1.  Toys?  Forgeddaboutit!  She will not play with toys.  And walks away from the squeaky ones (maybe thinking they are hurt?).  Her basket of toys remains in a corner completely and utterly untouched.
  2. Chasing a ball for exercise?  Nope.  She will not chase a ball or anything we might throw.  But, she will chase a bumble bee and maybe even go in for the kill.
  3. She is food driven and has gained way too much weight since she arrived.  Elsa is on a diet now.
  4. Elsa is afraid of:  Almost everything.   Last week we were out on the driveway and we were both looking into the woods at the wind in the trees.  It was an idylic moment all right until a very large branch came crashing down into the forest (many many feet away).  Elsa ran for home and had to be coaxed out for days after.  What do you expect when the sky was really falling?
  5. No need for a leash anymore.  Elsa is afraid of:  The outside.
  6. Don’t Leave!  I fear for probable Anxiety Attacks when I finally begin to drive again and leave the house.  We are ALWAYS together now thanks to the Pandemic. I have never had such a close relationship with a dog.  Will I be housebound forever for fear of leaving the poor pup?  Will it be my separation anxiety or hers?
  7. Elsa will still flinch if you try to pat her head.  But she is getting better now – a bit more trusting.  It has been over a year, so maybe we are making progress – if only the sky would stay up there so we could all Stay Safe!  20200529_144306

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elsa's Bed

Elsa’s Soothing Dog Bed

Elsa-our-little-rescue dog has been with us for over a year now.  She is much calmer and follows us even without a leash.  She has discovered the safety of “home-sweet-home” too and runs for it at the sound of a gunshot (hunting season just over here in rural Virginia), or thunder.

I have been searching for a safe place inside home-sweet-home, where Elsa can go to snuggle up and deal with her anxieties.  Voila!  We now have a “soothing dog bed” which is a soft fluffy thing that even I would like to cuddle in.

I think it must feel like a great big hug!

Elsa still runs for home when she’s scared, but now she has a Soothing Bed to hug her to sleep.

 

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Elsa Here a Year

Elsa Here a Year

Has it been a whole year since we brought Elsa home to our little house in Virginia?  I realize now how terrified she was that day and for many after.  We think she was abused in her other life/lives because she used to flinch when we tried to pat her head.  She is still frightened of raised voices or fast movements.

But Elsa feels at home now and she looks calm and contemplative.  I somehow know she is happy.

Me too.

dog towel

Thank you Mary Ellen!

 

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adult alternative medicine care comfort

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The BigFoot story is not over – until it is over of course.

Big Foot has been somewhat reduced to a visibly normal size.  At the same time, it is still bigger than it should be.  Sometimes I can walk fast but still cannot run with abandon.

Today, on the way to PT (Physical Therapy), I was walking with my cane in front of a young couple.  They eventually passed me and the young man said, “You don’t need that cane.”  And I said, “Yes, it is only for balance.”  Wasn’t he the sweetest thing? He actually made my day and I am still grinning and thrilled that someone said I don’t really need that cane.

But this story is about today’s journey through PT (Physical Therapy).

PLAYING WITH ELSA-THE-DOG

“I want to get down on the floor to play with Elsa,” I said to Anne-Marie (my physical therapist) today.  “The problem is, once I get down, I am not sure I can get up.”

Anne-Marie is a very sweet and expert therapist who will work on whatever problem I present. She understood immediately and she promptly demonstrated her technique for gracefully lowering herself to the floor with one bent knee.

I explained my own technique for getting down there.

“It’s like this,” I said. “ At home I collapse face first and chest first onto an easy chair.

Then I push off in a pre-aimed sideways fall to get the rest of the way to the floor.”

“Uh, I don’t like the word collapse,” said Anne-Marie. “Don’t collapse on anything but remember stomach in and accomplish goals with slow determination.”

O.K.  I made it to the floor in front of my therapist and anyone else who was watching of course. I got there by holding a death grip on Anne-Marie’s wall mounted ballet rails and kind of hanging my way down.  There was nothing graceful in this.

NOW HOW TO GET BACK UP!

I explained to Anne-Marie that at home I arise from whatever position I fall in by

  •  hoisting my upper body onto the seat of the easy chair,
  • swinging BigFoot as far forward as it will go and pushing it a little further with my hand,
  • then not so gracefully heaving myself up to a somewhat wobbly standing position.

Do you have a mental image of this action?

IT IS NOT A PRETTY PICTURE!

Again, my lovely therapist urged me to use thoughtful, slow, determined movements to hold onto the chair but to bring that foot around and to lean on my own bent foot to rise with strength and grace.  I will be a picture of graceful moves.  Ha!

I did it there once again using the ballet rails and arm muscles instead of abs!

I think I can do it at home.

It will be a move in the direction of physical fitness.

Not today though.

Maybe tomorrow.

I will try not to collapse onto the chair, but to lower myself, abs in and with goal-oriented determination.  If you are young you have not read this far. Getting up is not a challenge.  If you are old, stick with me.

Lowering my body to the floor and then hoisting myself up from the floor was not the only goal today but it was the major one.  After all, this session was designed specifically for Elsa-the-dog so we can play face to face on her own level.

For more pretty pictures of Dor managing to live happily ever after with BigFoot, stay tuned.

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