This is a Public Service Announcement or You’re Doing It Wrong!

What is it with people today? Is everyone so self-absorbed that they don’t realize there is a world going on around them and they are not the center of the universe? Well news flash, the rest of the world doesn’t give two cents about your well-being. Today and only for today, I am climbing up on my soapbox to put this public service announcement out there for the general public.

Would you put yourself in harm’s way on purpose? Would you turn your back on a charging bull and believe that because you have opposable thumbs you are safe? Of course not! Who would turn their back on potential, impending danger and not do anything to keep themselves safe? So why is it every day I encounter some self-absorbed person walking, running or walking their dog on the wrong side of the road. These people are walking along with traffic, some with their nose in their phone, some not, but they are still oblivious to the fact that all it takes is one distracted driver or one trying to miss oncoming traffic to swerve a bit and they get slammed in the back. And I guarantee you that the person walking is going to lose in that moment.

I was taught a long time ago that walkers and runners go against traffic, which makes perfect sense, that way you at least have a fighting chance. If I can see danger coming at me, I have that split second to get out of the way or at the very least, if I live through being run down, I can give the police a description and license number.

So here it is, my public service announcement:

“You’re Doing It Wrong!” Cross the road and walk facing oncoming traffic, arrive alive!”

And as my mother used to say, “Don’t make me come other there and shake some sense into you!”

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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.

Oh Come on Now – Enough is Enough!

Mother Nature is having a huge laugh at our expense and I’ve had enough. It is the middle of May for god’s sake and I’m still wearing an insulated jacket when I walk the dogs. Oh and did I mention the jacket has a hood, because we are having the wettest spring on record. That matched our winter, which was the wettest on record, too. Yada, yada, yada. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and in the Midwest, that is the date to plant your hot weather vegetables and tomatoes. Here, I’m still hardening off my tomatoes so they don’t wither and die at night when the temperatures dip into the forties.

Well enough is enough! I am so ready for some warmer weather, not asking for nineties, I don’t want that, but some seventy degree days are desperately needed and sunshine. I need some sunshine! I would even settle for the mid-sixties if I could have the sun out too. I have so much yardwork to do, but every time I get ready to head out, I look outside and it’s raining, again. All the native Washingtonians tell me that this is so unusual and they are getting tired of all the chilly wet weather too.

Well Mother Nature, enough is enough, come on, you’ve had a good laugh and have reminded us all you are in control, not us. It’s time to move on, go inland, go out to sea, I don’t care, just go play your pranks someplace else. I have eight raised beds and all I have planted so far is a bed of strawberries and a bed with three blueberry bushes. I have green beans, zucchini and cucumber seeds I need to get in the ground, not to mention the tomatoes.

And I’m haven’t even mentioned mowing yet. I could mow my yard twice a week, if I was so inclined. All my neighbors mow their lawns one to two times a week, but not me, I don’t care that much about it. I like my grass a bit taller than everyone else around here. If you were to compare our yards to a golf course, my neighbors’ yards look like the putting green and my yard looks like the rough. It hides the weeds.

It’s enough to make me drink, oh wait, I already drink.

Taking the Leap

Well call us crazy or not, we took the leap and jumped off the cliff. After we received the reprieve from the woman asking for two weeks to try and work something out with her landlord, we breathed a sigh of relief. We told each other that it was for a reason that we didn’t get the dog. That maybe later on in the future, we would start looking for a dog. Guess what? Two weeks to the day, we received an email, asking if we were still interested in meeting Royal. We said yes, but now due to prior commitments, we couldn’t take him for another two weeks. We also said we would understand if they couldn’t wait for us.

Oh no, was the response, they would be more than happy to keep him for another 2 weeks. They just wanted to make sure he had a good home. I wasn’t sure how she “knew” we would be a good home, since we had only traded emails to date. We agreed to meet Royal the following Sunday, and see how he would get along with Orso. All week, I kept going back and forth, are we doing the right thing for Orso? If we take Royal, would that be the right thing for him? Talk about making myself crazy, I must have waffled back forth enough to have worn a groove in my brain.

Sunday morning, we loaded Orso up and headed out to meet Royal. We got there early and wandered around the school grounds that we had agreed to introduce the two on. Neutral territory, that way no one felt threatened or possessive of the space. A car pulled into the far side of the parking lot and watched as a man got out with a large dark brown dog. Nope, not Royal, we thought, because it was a Doberman and we were expecting a lab/mastiff mix. The man and the dog headed off in the opposite direction so we were pretty sure, they were just out for a stroll in the drizzle.

Another car pulled in and parked. A woman and a teenage girl got out of the car and the woman turned and opened the back door of the car. Out hopped a fawn colored dog with blackish brown ears. Royal came trotting over to us, quite unafraid and eager to meet us and Orso. He was as tall as Orso and a little bigger in the chest than Orso, maybe about five to ten pounds overweight. He was super friendly and just wanted to be petted. He was also a leaner.

After introductions, we watched the two get to know each other, sniffing butts, peeing on top of the other’s pee spot and running around the grass. Orso tried to jump on his back a couple of times and each time Royal would turn and give a warning bark growl, but never showed teeth. I was quite impressed with the dog, and ready to jump over the ledge. Mitch asked a few questions, did he have any ailments, eating issues, were his shots up to date, etc. All of our questions were answered quite positively, and I couldn’t help but wonder about his owner. It would take dire circumstances for me to even consider having to find a home for Orso and not keep him.

We asked if any others had responded to the ad and the woman said yes, she had gotten eight offers but only took one other offer seriously. After meeting the couple, she told them no they couldn’t have Royal. It seems the couple had a pair of pit bulls with them that were quite beat up and kept asking her what the mastiff side was capable of. She told us that she felt uneasy and worried about Royal’s safety.

I took the first leap, looked at Mitch and said that we would love to take him, but because family was coming into town, we couldn’t take him until the following Saturday. That seemed to be quite workable, so we said good-bye, loaded up Orso and headed home. Saturday morning, we picked up Royal and brought him home. We left Orso home for the pick up so that there was no tension in cramped spaces. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I jumped out and leashed up Orso and the four of us went for a nice long walk.

We are now a week into back being a two-dog family and so far, so good. Maybe it’s because both dogs are older, Orso will be eleven and Royal is almost six, both are very calm sedate dogs, pretty much couch potatoes most of the time.

So for now, life is good, just a little more cramped on the couch, but quite relaxed. I’m sure once Royal gets comfortable and realizes the once he crossed the threshold, he was here to stay, things will get back to my normal chaotic life.

State of Grace

The description, “She walks with fluid soft grace, she almost floats” has been used to describe me NEVER! You will never hear the words fluid soft grace, when someone talks about me. I have an uncanny ability trip over thin air, lose my balance when doing the simple task of standing or fall up or down stairs. I’m quite an accomplished professional faller. I also find new ways to either cut myself on the most mundane object. Case in point, I sliced open my knuckle on a piece of aluminum foil the other day. Who gets a paper cut from aluminum foil, me that’s who.

I can’t blame this ability on getting older or some strange side effect from the gravitation pull of a full moon. I’ve been this graceless from childhood and the phase of the moon has no effect on me. My mother even sent me to Charm School when I was budding teenager. I learned how to set a proper table, to sit with my ankles crossed and how to stand with a book on my head. And do you know what happened at the graduation ceremony, I tripped walking across the stage to pick up my diploma. Poor mom, couldn’t get a refund.

I have fallen off the side of the road and face planted in the ditch without any help from the dogs. I’ve crashed and burned falling down a hill carrying a four-foot step ladder. I burn my hands on oven racks almost weekly. (Hum, maybe I should quit cooking) And as I mentioned above, I have lacerated myself with aluminum foil, paper, knives and forks.

Last night I reached a new level of clumsiness. I was cleaning the huge mirror in our bathroom and couldn’t reach the top of the mirror standing in front of the vanity. I know what you’re thinking, I climbed up on the vanity then fell off. You would be wrong, not that I didn’t consider it. Nope, I went and got the small rickety wooden step ladder from our closet, so I could reach the top without falling off the vanity. I set the step ladder up and climbed up to reach the top section on the left side of the mirror. But because the mirror spans the length of the room, I had to move the step ladder to the other side so that I could clean the top right hand side of the mirror. As I set the step ladder down, I placed one leg on the toe of my right shoe, then proceeded to climb up on the step ladder.

Yes, I knew I set the ladder on my shoe and still stepped up on the ladder, I don’t know why I continued, but I did. Needless to say, I crushed one toe so badly it bled in my sock. I hopped off the ladder cursing and hopping around the bedroom. I know what you’re thinking, “What kind of moron would put a ladder on her foot and then step on it?” I don’t have a good answer for you, except I think I move faster than my brain. That sounds as good of an explanation as any, or I’m just a moron. That would work too.

So now my options are I can only use ladders when supervised by an adult or hire a mirror cleaner.

Orso – The New Spokesdog

I have the perfect job for Orso – Spokesdog. Not just any old spokesdog, but a spokesdog for UPS. UPS would be lucky to have him for their mouthpiece as a satisfied customer. Though I’m not sure how to approach UPS and pitch Orso as their spokesdog. It’s perfect when you think about it, Orso is a great big chocolate lab and the UPS official color is brown, it’s a match made in heaven. A big brown dog standing in a big brown truck, and who doesn’t love a big brown slobbery happy dog? Talk about PR perfection, it’s a marketing dream.

Orso loves the UPS man and his big brown truck. Orso knows the sound of the diesel truck coming from a long way away. He will jump up from a dead sleep to run to the front door to watch and wait for his favorite UPS driver. It helps that our regular driver brings large dog biscuits with him and gives one to Orso with each delivery.

When Orso hears the truck, he runs to the door and watches with great big hopeful eyes, and if the truck stops, he will cry and whine and bark this shrill bark, showing his total impatience at how slowly the world turns while he is waiting for the UPS man to climb out of the truck and bring him a dog biscuit. Because we all know that Orso NEVER gets any treats, only the ones the UPS man gives him. Not.
As soon as the driver gets out of the truck and starts to walk to the front door, Orso is standing on his hind legs barking loudly and frantically, as if he has just found his long-lost boy. It’s a bit embarrassing and I must admit to a bit of jealousness, because I’m not so sure, Orso wouldn’t just go with the UPS man. After all, he has food and Orso is a lab.

Orso has become so obsessed with the big brown UPS truck that if we’re out on a walk and he hears a truck, any truck with the telltale diesel engine, Orso will stop and search for the direction the sound is coming from, then turn and wait until the noise gets louder and closer. God forbid he sees the truck while we’re walking. That turns into an Aflac claim just waiting to happen. Twice this week the UPS truck came up the street while we were out on our morning walk. Orso turned and started barking at the truck hoping to get the driver to stop, which he did right there in the middle of the street.

Our driver, then turned the truck off and climbed into the back of his truck, just to get Orso a biscuit. Orso had already climbed up into the truck and was waiting for the treat. Our UPS driver told me that Orso was the only dog on his route that gets so excited to see him. I think that the driver gets as big a kick out of seeing Orso as Orso does when he sees him.

It’s a sad day when the truck doesn’t stop or if our regular driver is off and there is no biscuit. Orso doesn’t understand why not every delivery person that comes to our door is as prepared to meet a happy hungry lab. I guess I should keep a stash of dog treats by the door so if someone comes empty-handed I can save the day.

Orso – Spokesdog for UPS, has a ring to it don’t you think?

Going Down the Rabbit Hole (Almost)

We almost brought another dog into our lives, almost. We were so close. Mitch saw an ad in the Saturday paper, “A lab/mastiff mix, 6 years old” and then the magic words, “FREE TO A GOOD HOME”. Mitch was hooked. Even though he knows, there is no such thing as free. Nothing is ever free. More importantly, Mitch has been the hold out, saying over and over, “Not another dog, yet.” But there it was, Mitch urging me to send an email, asking about the dog. I reminded him of our last experience with a “lab mix”. As much as I loved Charlie, he was always a bit off. We were “on guard” with him always, because he was animal aggressive and sometimes very explosive.

So, I called his bluff, I sent an email, asking how big he was, did he get along with other dogs, etc. The ad said he was good with cats and children, but didn’t mention dogs. I got a response, that yes, he was good with other dogs, they had three other dogs, four cats and four children. A very full house. He also weighed a hundred pounds, so a good size match for Orso. Now I was curious as to why if they had three other dogs, four cats and four children, why was this dog singled out to be kicked to the curb. Why not get rid of the cats? Four cats to one dog, seemed like a fair trade.

I sent the question back, “why are you trying to find a home for this dog?” I phrased it very diplomatically, instead of saying, “why are you getting rid of this one, as opposed to one of the others?” I wanted to know the real reason for the ad. What was wrong with him? Was he a biter, a fighter, what? Why was this one getting the boot? Because the answers would determine our next step. I was still very gun shy about getting back into a situation where Orso would be victimized ever again.

We were straddling the fence, not sure which side to fall on, dog or no dog. I almost called our best friends to ask what we should do, but I already knew their answer, “Get the dog.” They have three medium to large size dogs, and are not unbiased. By the time we went to bed, we had decided that no we would pass on the dog. No dog yet.

Her email response came in the morning. The answer was not what I expected at all. The owner had gotten the dog as a puppy and now after six years had to give him up because she had to move to an apartment wouldn’t take dogs, especially large dogs, so she took him to her friend, who promised to look for a great home for him. The friend had placed the ad, with three other dogs, four cats and four children already had a full house. After reading her email, I was ready to get in the car, drive to wherever he was and bring him home on the spot. Sanity returned and I waited for Mitch to wake up.

We talked some more, pros and cons, talking ourselves out of the dog, then back into the dog. I finally sent an email back asking if we could meet with Orso to see how they might interact. I got a response saying that was a great idea and when could we get there. I asked if noon would work and waited for her response. The reply came back letting us off the hook – sort-of. The owner was not handling the separation well and asked her friend if they would keep him for two weeks, until she either found another place or could win over her landlord. But could they keep our email, “just in case.”

My heart went out to the woman and her dog, because I know how I would feel if I were forced with the same decision. I answered back that of course, they could keep our email address, and that I understood completely. I even offered to “foster the dog” for the woman if she wanted to on a short or long term basis, if the need arose.

We almost fell down the rabbit hole, not quite, but we’re teetering.

Don’t Try This at Home

Many years ago, Mitch gave me a hand-me-down parka that someone at his work had out grown. It is a long knee length winter parka with a zip in liner, and is quite warm. It is water proof with a hood and lots of pockets, and reflector strips to be seen in the dark, making it perfect for walking Orso in the dark and hiking when it’s cold. I’m not sure how old it is, but I can say that I have gotten at least ten or more years of wear out of it.

The down side to the parka is that it has one of those double zippers on it, you know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that you can zip up closed and at the bottom of the hem, you can zip up toward the collar to unzip to an open jacket. I have always hated that part of the parka, because the double zipper is always harder to catch at the bottom, making it more difficult to zip up. Oh, I know the theory behind it, to be able to unzip the coat to get to a pocket or to go pee without removing the coat, but I would just wait until I was somewhere warm to heed the call of nature.

Over the years, the zipper has gotten weaker, making it harder to get shoved down into the second zipper sometimes. Usually that happens when I’m in a hurry or Orso is impatient, making it take longer to get outfitted and out the door. This morning everything was going just fine, I put on my sweatshirt and hat, then put on the parka and zipped it up, donned my gloves and hooked up Orso to his harness and off we went on our pre-dawn walk.

The walk was going along smoothly when I started feeling a chill on my thighs and stomach. I looked down and saw that my parka was wide open flapping in the breeze. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the zipper on the bottom had let go and my parka was unzipping itself from the bottom up. I tried to reconnect the zipper and zip it up to meet the top zipper but that didn’t work. Then I tried to unzip the top zipper to meet the bottom of the zipper where it had stopped at open, but that didn’t work either. So, in an act of desperation, I zipped the top zipper back up all the way and pulled the two sides of my parka together in one hand to try and keep it closed until I could get back home.

When I got back home, I struggled with the zipper trying to get the upper zipper unzipped far enough to force the lower zipper down. That didn’t work either, I had only gotten the upper zipper unzipped down about three inches from the top and the lower zipper had unzipped itself up the rest of the way to meet the upper zipper.

I stood there thinking about how I was going to the parka off. Panic was starting to set in. I had to get it off and get in the shower to get ready for work. I couldn’t just stand there all day in a parka that was more unzipped than zipped but wouldn’t come off. Have you ever tried to pull a knee length parka off over your head with an opening of about five inches and not rip off your nose? It’s not easy let me tell you.

Way to go Orso!

Once again Orso strikes. Thanks to Orso, we can cross another couple off the list of potential friends here. You ask how could that be? How could Orso keep us from making friends? He’s such a sweet dog, super friendly and loves everyone, man and dog alike. Well that’s part of the problem. He wants to be friends with every dog out there, small or large, he doesn’t discriminate. But not all dogs want to be his friend. His size is very intimidating to a lot of dogs he meets.

Today I took him on our afternoon walk and about halfway through our route, three of our neighbors caught up with us walking their dogs. One of the dogs is an older dog that is nice enough, but has no interest in being playmates. She is just happy to plod along for a while then turn back. As long as I stay between Orso and her owner with her on the outside, we are good, no snaps or snarls. Orso has learned to give her a wide berth.

The problem was the other couple and their dog. They are a nice couple with a smaller female black lab, probably weighing in around sixty pounds or so, making her about forty-five pounds lighter than Orso and much lower to the ground. The husband was super friendly, talkative and kept loving on Orso marveling at size of his head. I thought Orso’s head size matched his body size, all were big. I just shrugged and shook my head.

The man let his dog off the leash and let her run, causing Orso to feel short changed, so against the inner voice in my head telling me that this was going to end badly, I let him off the leash too. The man started encouraging his dog to play with Orso, revving Orso in the process. So Orso obliged running at the smaller dog knocking her down and rolling her across the road on her back. She growled and cried at the same time. I rushed forward to grab Orso and hook him back up on the leash, so the man could get to his dog. She stood up and limped around lifting her right front leg and not putting any weight on it.

I thought, great, Orso has maimed their dog. I can only imagine what the vet bill will be. May I can turn around and run away, quickly. Maybe they don’t know where we live. That thought only lasted a moment, because everybody knows where we live. I apologized profusely over and over. The man assured me she was fine and that it was his fault encouraging them to play, but I still felt terrible. And I knew deep down, they would blame us, having a dog that was such a brute. So, as soon as I could gracefully turn around, I said good-bye and walked home as quickly as possible. Trying to put as much space between us as possible.

Poor Orso, he just doesn’t realize how big he is and even at ten and a half years old, he has the energy level of a much younger dog. I have to find him a dog that is bigger than he is to play with, because I don’t make enough money to pay for emergency vet bills. And at this rate, word will spread about the big brown hulk and we’ll have to move again.

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.