Goofball

That completely describes Orso in one word. Ten years old and still a big dope that acts like a two-year-old puppy. He is the one dog I didn’t want. I didn’t want to go see him, I didn’t want to add another dog to the mix. We had two dogs at the time, AJ, our black lab, a super sweet beautiful dog with a steamer trunk full of issues and Charlie, our half breed, half chocolate lab and half German shorthair, who was animal aggressive and a bit unstable.

We had just gotten the two dogs settled into a routine and everyday life was going along fairly smoothly without any episodes for a while which was all I wanted, quiet and boring. Then one day Mitch came home and said that a coworker had a son who had a dog that he needed to get rid of. The dog was a nine-month-old chocolate lab, purportedly with papers and he wanted to “just go take a look see”. I said absolutely not, we had just gotten to a point in our lives that things were settled and quiet, the dogs were happy and content. I didn’t want to upset any balance in our lives.

I knew what would happen if we went. I knew without a doubt once I set eyes on a puppy he would be in the back of the station wagon headed home with us. That was why I fought it so hard and still I lost. We drove up and as soon as our car pulled into the driveway and this ninety-five pound brown clumsy puppy came bounding out of the garage I knew that it was last time that dog would ever sleep in that garage. We loaded him up and took him home. His name was Rebar, which I thought was a stupid name for a dog and that it was getting changed right away. I liked the word orso, which is Italian for bear, and I think it suits him just perfectly.

Orso has always been a big dumb beau hunk, falling over his feet and mine, getting in the way, knocking me down and always sporting a big goofy smile on his face. We didn’t get any papers as they were reportedly lost, so we had to take it on faith that he is actually a Labrador Retriever, though at the time we suspected there was a Saint Bernard lurking around in there because Orso was and still is one giant drool machine. He can sling drool as high as seven feet and with enough velocity to knock a fly out of the air if it gets in the way. He wasn’t much of a hunting dog, preferring to walk behind me and let me knock down the brush to clear a path for him. And as far as the term “Water Dog” goes, Orso would rather ride in a boat feeling the wind on his face than get wet swimming.

He got interested in birds, but instead of pheasants Orso prefers to flush robins, sparrows and his arch nemesis, crows. Out here crows are proliferate, with large numbers banding together to swoop down and walk around searching for food. It’s not unusual to see three or four crows walking around together just a few yards away from us. This makes Orso crazy that these large birds would totally dismiss him as irrelevant and not fly away. He has taken to stalking them on leash then at the right moment Orso will stand up on his hind legs and give them a loud woof to try and make them fly. Because that is so effective the birds fly a short distance then shout back at him.

He’s the one dog I didn’t want, he’s totally devoted to me and now I’m just as devoted to him. Yes, he’s a goofball but he’s my goofball.

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I Need a Vacation

Mitch is in Seattle and I’m here getting the house ready to sell so I can load up the dogs and head west. It has been a long arduous month getting rid of a lot of stuff and packing up boxes after boxes of more stuff. What I really should do is after everything is packed up, go back through each box and throw away half of what’s in each one.

Saturday a week ago the house went on the market and I had promised myself that when it happened, I would go get a massage. Lord knows my back and feet needed some tender touches, so I decided to add in a pedicure along with the massage. I locked the dogs in crates and headed out for a little pampering.

I had my first showing almost immediately after getting home from my little bit of self-indulgence. I had just enough time to feed the dogs and load them up in the station wagon to escape. Of course this weekend was oppressively hot with temperatures over ninety eight and it felt like it was over a hundred. The station wagon struggled to pump out even moderately cool air. Sunday morning I ran a quick errand and came home to find Orso not in his crate but waiting at the top of the basement stairs. Somehow he escaped. To say I was not pleased was an understatement.

Sunday afternoon I had three showings scheduled and again it was in the high nineties and felt much hotter. I loaded up the dogs and headed out. This time I planned a little better and loaded the car with water for the dogs and me, leashes and car charger for my cell phone, just in case. We weren’t gone thirty minutes when an afternoon thunderstorm popped up causing us to sit in a ballfield parking lot watching as lightning flashed across the sky. I hoped that the car was lightning proof.

Monday morning I took the dogs to the basement to crate them up and neither one was having any of that. Charlie turned around and went back upstairs refusing to come down and Orso would not get in the crate. Can you imagine trying to push one hundred pounds of dog in one direction while he wants to go a different direction? The dogs hated the crates and I knew they wouldn’t be happy but I didn’t think I would be faced with outright anarchy. The treats I threw in the crates went untouched as both dogs refused to be bribed. I had to go to work and couldn’t leave them running loose because I had a showing scheduled for the morning and three more that evening.

I had to put the leash on Charlie to walk him down the stairs and into the crate. I grabbed Orso’s collar and shoved him in, latched the door and just to be safe I took tie downs and wrapped them around his crate cinching them tight. I then turned both crates to face each other so they could see each other and hopefully be reassured they weren’t alone. I came home for lunch to check on them and take them for a walk. Orso had been working on destroying the crate, pulling at the wire door and bending in two of the wires toward him which could poke him and make him bleed. I searched for a pair of pliers to bend the wires back and Orso pulled the door back toward him getting his head stuck between the door and the crate. I had to get his head unstuck then pull the door back to the outside of the crate and keep a very unhappy dog in the crate at the same time. Not an easy feat. This time after I finally got him secured in the crate and the door locked I used the tie downs again then turned his crate up against the wall in an effort to keep Orso contained until I got home.

Monday evening I got home and thankfully both dogs were stilled in their crates, unhappy at me but still contained. I fed them and loaded them up for three showings, all back to back from five to five forty five. Another scorcher I drove the poor overworked station wagon down to the dam to let the dogs run a bit before sitting in the air conditioned car. When I finally was headed home I noticed a hot smell in the car. Thinking it might have been the car charger for my cell phone, I pulled it out hoping that was the cause. That’s when I noticed the smoke coming out of the vents, super. I looked at the front end of the car and saw smoke coming out of the hood. Getting better. I sped up hoping everyone was gone and I could get the car into the driveway before it died.

I backed in the driveway, got the dogs out and in the house then went back to the car to check on it. I turned it off and raised the hood. Smoke was coming out at the bottom of the air-conditioning compressor. Wonderful, the day just got even better. That was the only car I had to get the dogs chauffeured around. Where is Mitch when I need him?

At that moment all I wanted to do was walk back in the house open a bottle of wine and go sit in the corner and have a pity party. Why do I get all the fun stuff to do?

Sunday Snaps

It snowed overnight, about one to two inches, not much but it is wet heavy snowball snow. Orso was so excited that he ran around with his head down scooping up snow like a steam shovel. Goofy dog. But we had enough to grad my camera and take a few pictures.

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Orso hunting for frozen goose poop, gross

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Charlie hunting for field mice under the snow covered Johnson Grass

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He kept going farther and farther down the rabbit hole

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He backed out without anything. I’m not so sure that was a bad thing.

Orso and Petco

Orso finally got to go inside Petco this morning. We don’t take our dogs to Petco, because there are usually other dogs around, small dogs and big dogs and not all are well behaved. Plus Charlie doesn’t play nice with too many other dogs, so he never gets to go inside. The last time I took any dog inside with me was Buddy, our yellow lab. Buddy was a very large yellow lab that weighed in at one hundred twenty pounds and loved to go everywhere with me. Buddy loved other dogs and people, but because of his size people with small dogs took one look at him and literally would turn and walk the other way.

On the last time that I took Buddy inside with me to Petco, I bought a fifty pound bag of dog food and had it in a cart with Buddy walking along side me attached to my wrist with his leash. As we walked out of the building Buddy spotted a little tiny dog walking toward us with an older man on the other end of the leash before I saw them. Buddy jerked and ran toward the little dog with me attached. I let go of the cart with the dog food inside in order to retain my wrist. The cart went sailing off in one direction and the two of us went catapulting in the opposite direction toward a man that was trying his best to get the little dog off the ground and in his arms before this giant carnivore gobbled him up.

A woman walking in the store from a different direction started yelling, “Run away cart,” like I could stop that while still attached to a very large dog going in the opposite direction. By the time we got to the man with the little dog, the dog owner was able to get the little guy up in his arms and out of the way of Buddy. Buddy stood there trying really hard to sniff the dog and say hello while I stood there apologizing profusely. I think we cost both the man and his dog a few years of life. The woman yelling about my cart, was nice enough to catch it before it hit a parked car. To say the least, Buddy never got to go back to Petco again.

This morning we needed to buy dog food and Orso needed a smaller collar, plus Mitch was going with me, so we decided to take a chance and take Orso in with us. Poor Charlie had to stay in the car and he wasn’t happy about that. The one thing I forgot was that today was pet adoption day and there were lots of dogs and cats there in crates hoping to be adopted. Orso thought that this was doggy heaven with all of the new dogs and people to greet and smell and bark at. Thank goodness for linoleum floors. Orso was like a kid in a candy store, so many new sights, smells and things to taste. I quickly remembered why I don’t take the dogs in Petco again.

At the check-out Orso stood up on the counter and greeted the clerk, who fell for that pitiful face and gave him a cookie. She was lucky she still had fingers. We were lucky to get out of there alive.

The Jerk and the Doofus

This morning we woke up to the first snowfall of the season. Let me correct the term morning, morning was 1:15am. Mitch ever the dedicated wanted to get up an hour earlier than normal so he could get to work extra early in order to get all of the equipment they use at work up and ready for a day of deicing one airplane after the other. Anyway at 1:15 this morning we had about two inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing fairly heavily.

After I fed the dogs and Mitch in that order, got him to work then it was time for our morning stroll. The dogs started off down the road with Orso the Doofus head down eating snow as he was loping along. He kept lurching ahead wanting to race around and play in the snow. Charlie the Jerk walked along at his usual pace head down sniffing the ground always hunting and because Mitch lets him get away with murder, Charlie has a really irritating tendency to race back and forth from one side of the road to the other, yanking my arm around. It is nearly impossible to be on both sides of the street at the same time, but Charlie gives it his best shot.

We had reached our turn around point on the walk and started back when Orso forgot he was eight years old and suddenly became a two year old again. He lunged forward yanking the leash causing me to lose my balance on the slick road. I went down in what had to be a very graceful plop in the road landing on my butt hard. I lost my grip on the leash and Orso took off with his butt down racing around in circles slipping and sliding in the snow. It was a good thing I let go of the leash because otherwise I would have literally been dragged down the road. On one of the laps around Charlie and me, Orso decided that both of us should join in the winter fun. He ran over me stepping on me and bashing into Charlie. Charlie didn’t forget he is ten years old and snapped at Orso growling and trying fruitlessly to get in a good bite or two, also stepping on me in the process.

Orso undaunted raced off to find a weapon to battle the Jerk with. He came across a stick snatched it up and waved it around whacking Charlie and me in the head. Charlie went after Orso with a deadly purpose, causing Orso to race away barking back at Charlie. Now I have one dog barking and one dog with murder in his eye at 3:30 in the morning. My neighbors just love us.

I was finally able to get back up on my feet and grabbed both leashes got the dogs under control and finished the walk with all of us covered in snow. It’s going to be a long winter.

My Inspiration

I get most of my creative inspiration from Mitch and the dogs. Granted all three have been very entertaining over the years giving me lots of good stories to write about. But now the dogs are much older, Charlie is ten and Orso is eight, and for the most part are calm and sedate spending more time sacked out either on our bed or the couch than up doing cute dog tricks. They still drag me around as a boat anchor when they spot something in the dark and want to give chase, just not as much as in the past. Orso will lunge forward give a big woof then sit because he knows I’m going to correct him and part of the correction is to make them sit then lay down, something I’ve been working on with both dogs. Making them sit then down to make them focus on me and break the focus on whatever it was that got them worked up in an agitated state. It works most of the time, but sometimes I still get yanked around getting body parts dislocated.

Mitch occasionally provides me with inspiration, usually because I come up with some off the wall idea or a remodeling project that always goes horribly wrong. With every project I always hear, “Just once I would like something to go right, just once!” Guess what, it never goes well. Everything always takes longer than expected and costs much more than it would if any other person was doing it. Part of the reason for that is because Mitch is so fastidious about his work and because the house we live in was built in three separate sections starting in 1928 and ending in 1986. But now the remodel of the house is almost done after eight long years, so there are less catastrophic remodeling projects to be had.

I came up with what I thought was a really great idea for future writing inspirations, but Mitch is not so keen on the idea. I suggested that since the dogs are old and not as much fun we should get a puppy. Mitch looked at me the same way a person looks a-would be stick up man who’s pointing a gun in their face. Shock and horror was written all over his face. I know we’ve always said that we would not get another dog until Charlie went to the “farm”, but I had a weak moment. My head knows that we can’t bring another dog into the house while Charlie is still alive, but my creative juices wanted a nudge. Charlie is animal aggressive and we have to work very carefully when introducing him to other dogs. It’s a long laborious process. When we rescued Orso, we had to call in an animal behaviorist to work with us just to keep Orso from ending up in the emergency clinic over and over. Even though Charlie is outweighed by thirty pounds, he can be a mean little dog.

“Are you out of your mind?” was Mitch’s response when he could finally talk. “We are not getting a dog.”

I knew that but I just wanted to see the look on his face when I suggested it. Besides if I start mentioning it occasionally, he’ll get used to the idea of getting another dog, in the future.

Day 2 – The Continuing Saga of the Hotel Room from Hell

Thankfully Mitch brought soap from home so at least I could be clean and not forced to use the used bar of soap, which I threw in the trash. I finished my shower, put on my makeup and fixed my hair. Yes I know, I’m going to walk around in the field carrying a gun, tripping over roots and stepping into badger holes, maybe even get shot by a fellow hunter, but at least I have on makeup and under my hunting hat my hair had been washed. All dressed and ready to go I left Mitch to shower and get ready and walked around to the front desk to check out the free complimentary breakfast.

There were frozen waffles, prepackaged cinnamon rolls cut in half, whole wheat and white slices of bread, a couple of apples, four packets of instant oatmeal and a choice of either raisin bran or frosted flakes cold cereal. Carb city, yummy. I popped two frozen waffles in the toaster and poured a glass of orange juice for Mitch. I buttered the waffles and poured syrup over the lukewarm waffles and carried them back for Mitch. After unloading the waffles and orange juice I headed back with my own oatmeal packet from home. I searched for hot water, but no hot water was not an option. How do you make hot oatmeal without hot water? My option was to add water from the faucet and put the bowl in the microwave to heat it up. Of course the only bowl offered was Styrofoam which meant I was going to get all of those bad nasty Styrofoam chemicals transferred from the bowl to my oatmeal. I don’t know how true that is but I figure why push it.

As I turned to walk back to our room Mr. Happy came up to me to tell me that the dogs couldn’t stay in the room if we weren’t there with them. I asked what he meant and he said, “You in 112?” I said that I was, he said again, “Dogs can’t stay in room if you are gone.” I assured him that the dogs would stay with us. How much fun would we have walking around in the field searching for birds without our chief sniffers? I walked back to the room finished up breakfast, loaded up the dogs and headed out for a day of communing with nature.

I had my fingers crossed for fresh towels, clean sheets and Kleenexes, but I wasn’t holding my breath. We got out in the field about nine a.m. and had really good luck in the morning. Orso turned out to finally get it, that he was a bird dog. We called it a day about 4:30 in the afternoon and headed back to the luxurious suite of our dreams. We walked in and saw that the bed looked the same as we left it, the sheets pulled up and the comforter pulled over the pillows. The sheets hadn’t been changed. I walked into the bathroom and saw towels folded and stacked into the slots for the towels. I don’t know if they were clean or just refolded. I looked on the back of the toilet and saw a new package of soap, that wasn’t opened yet. I could just imagine how busy the housekeeping staff was with seven rooms occupied.

But guess what, still no Kleenexes. There must be a world shortage.