Winter Blahs

I need a vacation. I need to win the lottery, so I can take a vacation. First I need to buy a ticket. That would be a good starting point. It’s January and I’m deep in the winter doldrums for some reason this year. It’s been cold and dreary, a typical Pacific Northwest winter and I long for white sandy beaches, aquamarine water and endless wine. I know, what a whiner, right?

I feel scattered, unsettled, kind of lost. I’m not depressed or anything, I just need a change, though I’m not sure what kind of change. I need a new focus, something that keeps me intrigued, something demanding of total focus and energy. A new challenge that is attainable, not such a challenge I would give up and accept defeat. That means rock climbing and skydiving are out, totally afraid of heights. Ballet is also out, no grace and that is not something I will ever learn. I guess walking on a high wire would be out too, (no grace and fear of heights) a double whammy.

So, what can I do and what are my interests? Wine, dogs, photography, gardening, hiking, to name a few. Writing, but of late I’ve not been writing either. I’ve been avoiding even looking at my blog sites. I’ve haven’t even done a mediocre job of reading other blogs that I follow. For that I apologize. My fellow bloggers give me many reasons to smile, and I haven’t been giving you your due.

But I decided to sit down and write a somewhat rambling piece that though is far from my best work, it has been a bit cathartic. It hasn’t cured my doldrums or given me any epiphanies, it’s something of a journal I guess, but at least I’m writing again. Maybe I just need an adventure to get me writing again. Or a really great bottle of wine to drink, then take the dogs on a walk.

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Chasing Waterfalls and the Coast

A couple of weeks ago we decided to buzz over to the Olympic Peninsula and search for some waterfalls. There is a waterfall road trip that loops highway 101 starting on the east side of the Peninsula goes north to the Strait of Juan De Fuca and turns south to drive along the Pacific Ocean coast for a while. We took the dogs, so we couldn’t go into the National Park, but we could go into the National Forest, so we drove west and found a couple of waterfalls in the Olympic National Forest, then drove up the coast and found a beautiful beach.

We barely scratched the surface and as soon as we have a couple of days to explore we’ll go again.

Adding to My Wellbeing

Well, maybe not so much. All the wisdom out there is that pets add to your wellbeing. Our pets are treated like family members, they eat premium dog food, carrots are their treats, along with homemade frozen yogurt pumpkin pops. I walk them at least three times a day, every day, rain or shine. I am the one out walking the dogs, in gale force winds, pouring rain and frigid temperatures. I’m the one everyone looks out their windows laughing at while they are warm or cool snug in their homes. The dogs even sleep in our bed with us, taking up the lion share of the king size bed.

But I’ve noticed a trend, maybe even a sinister bend by the dogs. I think they may be plotting against me. Lately on our walks, Royal has started walking in on me, forcing me to either move to the left or tripping over his legs. Royal keeps a watchful eye out for squirrels and will either stop or move in the direction of the squirrel with an abruptness that leaves my right shoulder in an odd angle. Orso is always lagging behind with me dragging him along a full six feet behind me. The only time he gets excited is if another dog shows up and then he tries to drag me over to the dog and its’ terrified owner. I am then tasked with the thoroughly enjoyable job of stopping two hundred pounds of dogs moving away from me – one short woman that has a lot less muscle mass than them.

Just yesterday, we had just come back from our afternoon walk and was standing in the driveway, when I noticed the black lab that lives down the street walk out of his driveway and as I took a step backward to see if he was on his way over to our house, Royal stepped behind me and as I almost stepped on him, I jerked away, yes you know it, I fell backwards hard on my rear end. I came really close to whacking the back of my head on the driveway, not that it would have caused much damage, I have a hard head. But it was jarring, none the less. Mitch turned around and looked at me sitting on the ground and asked why I was down there. I just turned and looked at Royal who was standing there with a slight smile on his face. I swear I saw a smile, I think he did that on purpose.

Oh yes, our pets enrich our lives and add to our wellbeing, and because I am enrolled in Aflac, I get rewarded every time they send me to the emergency room.

My Heartfelt Plea

Sorry, I’m not feeling funny or witty today. I am totally without any of my warped sense of humor and sarcasm. Instead I’m writing to make a plea straight from the depths of my soul. I don’t get on my soapbox very often, because no one wants to read the rantings of people today and it seems that there is always someone ranting about something. And to be completely honest, no one cares about all the opinions out there. But once in a while, I can’t stop myself.

Today while walking the dogs, a very large pickup truck drove past us. It was a truck I’d not seen before, it was raised with a lift kit and had huge exhaust pipes coming out behind the cab and went straight in the air. He was driving slowly, which was a plus, but wouldn’t move over even a bit to make room for us. I had to step off the road and into the ditch, so we wouldn’t get knocked off the road. He went on by and I said my normal caustic statement about thoughtless morons.

As I walked on up the road I heard the truck getting louder and turned around to see that he had turned around and was heading back our way. I kept the dogs close as he drove past and that’s when it happened. He had a dog tied up in the back of the truck and the dog wanted to meet us, so he jumped up and out of the truck to come over to us. The line was long enough allow him to jump out and hit the ground, get whacked by the oversized tires, rolled under the truck and came to a stop in front of the tire. If the man hadn’t stopped, he would have run over his own dog.

I stood there and held onto my dogs calling out, “Oh my god!” The man opened his truck door, hopped out and walked back to the dog. He grabbed the dog by the harness and threw him back into the back of the truck, saying, “Stupid dog.” He turned and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry about that.” I called to him and asked if the dog was okay, knowing he didn’t care. The man just climbed back in the truck, shut the door and drove off. He was just far enough away that I couldn’t get the license number.

I stood there in shock, wanting to cry, wishing I could save that dog more than anything else in the world, but knowing that wasn’t going to happen. My heart broke a bit at the indifference and lack of humanity in the man.

So here is my plea. Please if you have a pickup truck or know someone that does, don’t ever put your dog in the back tethered or untethered. If the dog can’t go in the cab, he should be in a crate that is securely fastened to the back of the pickup truck and if that isn’t an option, then leave him at home.

I know I can’t save them all, but if I can make one person rethink putting their dog in the back of a pickup truck, then I guess that’s something.

All In

Royal has now become a full-fledged member of our family. You know how family acts together, no inhibitions, everything hangs out, farts, burps and language is much more casual, while a guest is on their best behavior. Dogs are the same way in a fashion. They tend to be more on guard, watchful and very polite. Now Royal knows for sure that he is here to stay and his quirks and “bad habits” have emerged. Not that he is bad by any figment of the imagination, he is really a pleasure to have, it’s just that now the other habits have emerged. Maybe some of it has to do with us being on vacation and together all week or maybe he has finally “let his hair down”.

We were warned that Royal loves tennis balls to the extreme, and we would have to physically take it away from him or he would chew on it until it was destroyed, so we limit his ball time. On Monday, we drove over to Point Defiance Park to let the dogs get into Puget Sound for some swimming and romping around. Well, Royal knows what the water is good for, playing fetch with whatever is available to throw out in the water and he can retrieve. We didn’t think to take a tennis ball, so we looked for a stick. The first stick wasn’t big enough and Royal just chewed it up on the first throw. We searched around and found a small log, about two inches in diameter and about a foot long, and threw it out in the Sound for him. The log was pretty waterlogged, so Royal was able to chew it up a bit on each retrieve. Did I forget to mention that not only does he likes to go get whatever is thrown for him, but chews on it some is also a prerequisite. With each throw, Royal would destroy it bit by bit.

Orso was not as interested in swimming around and playing fetch, he was more intrigued with everything else, the beach, the trees and all the people. He kept wandering off in search of something new, so I followed him up and down the beach to keep him from getting too close to other people and their dogs. Mitch was tasked with keeping Royal entertained by throwing the stick out to him while walking down the stretch of beach. We decided that Royal would do that all day, swim out, retrieve whatever was thrown, bring it back and do it again. When we were almost back to our starting point, we tried to put the leash on Royal and he would have none of it. He wasn’t done playing and would not come to us. Just like a spoiled toddler that wanted something and couldn’t get it, he acted out. Royal raced into the water and wouldn’t come out, ran back and forth just out of reach, unless one of us wanted to wade into the cold water after him, until we threw the stick for him. He would bring the stick back out drop it and scoot away. What a stinker. We had to trick him with another stick to get him close enough to grab.

This morning on our after-breakfast walk, Royal spotted some small animal poop on the side of the road, that some moronic dog owner didn’t bother picking up, leaving it for some unsuspecting walker, (usually me) to step in. He stuck his nose almost on it to give it a good sniff, then proceeded to drop down to roll his head in the poop. I caught on just as he was headed down and jerked the leashed and gave a rather loud “no” for five in the morning. His head hit the ground next to the poop, but thankfully he missed the pile. That was the first time he did the “Drop and Roll” on something, but I can see that I need to keep a watchful eye on him in the future. When we got home from the walk, Royal got a thorough face cleaning with a Clorox wipe.

What a dog, it’s good to see that he has finally decided we are his forever home, I just hope there are no more “bad” habits to discover.

One Month In

Royal has now been here for a month and it’s like he has been with us forever. He is completely ensconced in our home and lives. He and Orso get along almost like they had been litter mates. Both are consummate couch potatoes with short bursts of energy, running side by side full steam nipping at each other, then dropping on the grass rolling around on their backs settling on their stomachs to watch what I’m doing. There are no fights or tension, it is so pleasant, just two dogs that have the same temperament. A real breath of fresh air.

Not to pretend Royal is perfect, he is not. He has no sense of personal space, getting right in my face wanting to lick me all over (yuck). I’ve seen what they put in their mouths. Try putting your shoes on and playing dodge ball with your head in an attempt to avoid dog kisses. I can bob and weave like a pro boxer now. He walks crooked, partly because of his hip dysplasia, which is quite annoying on our walks. He must walk on my right, won’t walk on the left, so I’m left to walking in the middle of these two buffoons and Royal walks into my right leg pushing me into Orso. Then he crosses in front of me to go sniff and pee. After he is done sniffing and peeing, he crosses back to my right, but this time he crosses behind me. So I’m constantly circling the leash around my head like a lasso. I am pretty sure the neighbors think I’m nuts. What else is new?

We were told Royal gets along well with cats, but I’m not so sure about that. He has gone ballistic barking and growling at the neighbor’s cat walking across the back fence. He chased that cat the length of the yard along the fence line and I don’t think it was to introduce himself to the neighborhood. He also has no fondness for squirrels. He wants one badly and I fear the day he and Orso outsmart one. Not that I love squirrels, I just don’t want to watch the bloodletting and subsequent visit to the vet.

Bedtime means all of us in our bed. We lost that battle three dogs ago. Now we just accept the cramped sleeping space and constant dog hair. I keep the bed and pillows swathed in sheets to keep our faces free of dog hair and other dog parts. The top of the bed is no-man’s land, but under the comforter the sheets are dog free. Of course the added bodies make the bed hotter, so I keep a fan blowing on me year round. Poor Mitch has to sleep in his shorts, sweatpants, t-shirt and sweatshirt, plus in the winter he has two comforters on him, even with the dog body heat.

I’m glad we took the chance and brought him home, he is the perfect match for Orso. And I do get a kick out of walking two dogs that weigh right at a hundred pounds. You should see the faces of the people I walk by with their five pound dogs barking up a storm and mine are actually behaving. (Of course when they don’t I look like a boat anchor dragging behind them).

Just to show you I am not making it up, I have a picture of the two laying in the yard.

The Truth Comes Out

Today we finally received Royal’s vet records and needless to say, they were very enlightening and confirmed a lot of what I suspected. We didn’t get a pig in a poke but, some of the “facts” told to us were maybe a bit misleading. Not that it would matter, because as soon as Royal crossed the threshold, he became a member of the family, here to stay for the rest of his life.

The biggest fallacy was his age. I had thought Royal had led a rough life because he didn’t get around as well as Orso. His teeth are not in the best shape either for a “six-year-old” dog. One front fang is broken and the other fang is chipped, like a dog that has been living on the streets. We were told that Royal will be six years old this year, in actuality he will be nine years old this month. I guess they thought if someone knew his real age, Royal would become unadoptable. That makes him closer to Orso’s age now, who will be eleven years old in August.

Another factoid we read was that in 2013 he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. That explained the way Royal would go up and down stairs. At first we thought he had never been exposed to stairs. That was the case with AJ, our black lab. When we brought AJ home the first time, he had no idea how to go up or down stairs, we had to teach him. We thought it odd the way Royal would lie down, either on his side or if he was on his stomach, he would adjust himself so that his legs stick out behind him, like a puppy does. But no, Royal just has hip dysplasia, another check mark against someone wanting to adopt him. Good thing I bought a huge bucket of joint supplements.

We had decided that Royal is a bit overweight, not having the stamina of Orso now two years his senior. But we know he is almost nine and has hip dysplasia, we can work on a better regimen, diet and exercise, to help him feel better. With the vet records in hand, we can work with our vet to get his shots up to date and a good dog food. We’ve already talked about this year we will be taking them swimming more. Another reason to get a kayak.

So for whatever time we have left with Royal and Orso, it will be a gift and a treasure everyday.