Another Morning Walk as Sedate as Always – Not!

Once again our “quiet sedate” pre-dawn walk was anything but quiet or sedate.  Something was out there.  Both dogs were on high alert.  Orso had his head up with ears turned forward and at attention, listening intently searching for the intruder.  Charlie always on the hunt had his nose to the ground and sucking up the strange new scent through his vast number of olfactory glands.  He sounded like a vacuum cleaner sniffing and snorting sorting out the scent.  His tail puffed out and the hair on his back stood straight up like a Mohawk.  Orso scanned the dark road in front of us turning his head back and forth searching for a glimpse of whatever it was.  Charlie jerked and pulled on the leash head still down following the hot scent getting more and more agitated as we walked. 

I started to doubt the wisdom of our forward motion, thinking this is only going to end badly for us, or in reality, me.  As we rounded a curve in the road, Charlie jerked his head up and turned to the right of us, lunged forward and growled at the dark.  That’s when the hair on the back of my neck stood up too.  Orso and I both looked in the direction of Charlie’s growled challenge, not seeing anything.  Whatever was out there wasn’t showing itself and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.  Adrenaline was flowing in both Charlie and me now so I quickened our step in order to get up over the hill to where there was a street light and maybe get a look at what had Charlie so worked up.  His “I want to kill something” instinct was definitely in overdrive.

By the time we reached the street light the scent had gone cold and Charlie started to relax a bit, as much as Charlie ever relaxes.  I noticed that most of the hair on his back was laying down with only a tuft of hair at base of his tail still at attention.  Maybe whatever was out there had decided not to tag along and track us in the dark.  It took a little longer for the adrenaline rush to go away for me though.  I was a little more on guard than usual for the rest of the walk.

I think I need to start carrying a light saber or bazooka maybe on our walks.


Living with Orso is comparable to living with a rebellious teenager.  Every conversation is an argument.  A conversation with a teenager goes something like this, “Honey I need you to clean up your room.”

First you get an explosion of expelled air then, “What’s wrong with my room?  It looks fine to me.”

“There are clothes all over the floor and I’m down to three dishes in the cabinet to eat dinner on, please go clean up your room.”

“I know where everything is.  Besides it’s my room and I like it like it is.”

With Orso I’ll look at him and say, “Sit.”

He looks at me and says, “Woof.”

I repeat my sit command again, and get the same response, “Woof.”

Now my voice is a little louder and sterner, “Sit!”

To which I get, “Woof woof!” 

Now I’m about to lose my temper and the ninety-five pound stinker knows it so he sits and has the audacity to sit there and wag his tail like he’s done something wonderful.  As every parent does, I look skyward for guidance and patience, lots of patience.  Everyday it’s the same, I tell him to do something or pick up my purse to go somewhere and all I get is sass.  Just like a teenager. 

I wonder when and where I lost control and what made this dog start to question and argue with me every time I speak.  Just like a teenager.  According to medical science dogs supposedly age seven years for each 365 day cycle.  That would make Orso forty two, hardly a teenager, so is science wrong or is he just eternally going to be this annoying? 

I must be cursed, I have already raised two sons to adulthood (luckily they survived) and thought I was past teenage attitude.  Evidently not.

It’s Time to Start Writing Again

I realized the other day that I hadn’t been writing since AJ died.  I had nothing to say.  Nothing funny or witty came to mind; I just felt this empty loss.  I guess I needed the time to get past his death.  I still miss him, but now I know that it was for the best for him.  No more pain.  I’m just sorry that I didn’t clue into his pain sooner.  That makes me sad that I didn’t see the signs, the growing rib cage, the slowing down and most of all not picking up on his refusal to eat with the usual gusto he had exhibited in the past.  Does that make me a bad pet owner?  I hope not.  But I hope that I will be a more aware pet owner for Charlie and Orso.

When a member of the family dies all you feel at first is the sorrow and pain of the loss of a dear loved one.  All of their faults are forgotten.  I could only think of how much I loved him, what a devoted dog he was and that I would never get to see or pet him again.  AJ wasn’t perfect, far from it in reality. 

He had severe separation anxiety issues that we could never overcome, even after ten years in a stable loving environment.  AJ was a consummate counter surfer, stealing and consuming multiple loaves of bread and many coffee cakes that were still in the baking dish.  How that glass pan survived multiple crashes to the floor is a testament to the strength of Pyrex.  He even broke into the pantry and ate his way through two loaves of bread, chocolate cake mix, taco shells, dry pasta and a bottle of Magic Shell in one scavenger attack.  He survived without getting sick, even though I would have felt some sense of justice if he had.

I can look back now and remember the carnage and mess and smile, but not then.  Mitch and I went through a period of trying everything we could think of to contain the dogs, with AJ as the ring leader, and keep the kitchen contents safe from theft and destruction.  The pantry doors will have to be replaced because of the scratches from AJ working to pull the doors open.  I can’t remember how many times AJ knocked over the trash can and dragged the bag out into the room and searched for something that might be tasty, leaving a nasty mess for us to clean up. 

AJ chewed his way through a pair of Mitch’s boots, a pair of my gloves, a pair of 360 ear muffs (my favorite ones of course) and a couple of my cookbooks over the years.  I don’t know if it was out of boredom or fear, but it was so frustrating on my part, looking at the destruction and the cost to repair or replace what was torn up.  We even tried kenneling him when we were gone.  There wasn’t a crate made that could hold him for long.  AJ had an uncanny ability for escape.  His nickname should have been Houdini.  First we tried a wire crate.  It took him maybe four hours to force the welds at the corners to pop and collapse the crate.  I’m only guessing at the four hours because that was how long I was gone.  After the failure of the wire crate we tried an airline crate, formed plastic with wire windows and door.  The door lasted three days before AJ had pushed against the hinge pins long and hard enough to bend the catches so the door would swing open.  Mitch tried to get creative and cut a door out of clear Lexan, drilled vent holes and hung it in place of the bent wire door.  That solution lasted one week.  Long enough for AJ to chew through the formed plastic base all the way across under the door, causing the door to just fall out.  Done, we were out of ideas on ways to lock up Houdini. 

What can you do with a dog that is that determined to be untethered with a myriad of phobias and bad habits?  The only option we had, love him and deal with the phobias and bad behavior on a day by day basis.  For all of the destruction and mayhem, I wouldn’t have missed one moment with AJ.