Monday, February 11, 2008

The First Monday

Just as I have grown to pass the days without knowing whether it is a 2-4-6 or a 1-3-5 day, I have apparently replaced it with knowing the evening theme of an award winning gay restaurant.

I look forward to working somewhere that has nothing to do with awards one day. Maybe it will be easier to forget when I can't do it anymore.

Luckily, I managed to keep so busy today that I could not nap nor wallow. I walked the puppies, took a yoga class, got my teeth tightened, treated myself to lunch, picked Justin up to get coffee and run an errand, then traded him for the puppies who let me take them to the beach, give them a bath and take them on a long walk.

The company of my husband is always nice, but I think even he will allow that the puppy part of my day was the best. I am a girl who needs a dog in her life.

They were so excited when I came back in the middle of the day (surprise!) that they did their usual running around, drinking some water ("we must be going on a walk, it's OK to drink now.... my bladder won't explode"), and clamoring all over me. Then, Stanley took the extra measure of affection and jumped up on the couch to sit next to me. I complimented him a lot and I think he got embarrassed, so he had to run for his carrot toy and play with it. Stanley is quite sensitive. Meanwhile, Yaz accepted the relief of me petting her instead of just rubbing her body along the couch the way she does. Yaz is a dog who needs a scratching post, but wouldn't use it because she would think it beneath her.

News of a ride to the beach was accepted gleefully. The dogs were so excited they both committed the crime of peeing right at the gate on the pathway instead of the plant area. It's really too bad for them that they don't understand this sort of behavior actually slows down the process of getting to the fun part (the walk, the park, the beach, a visit to Uncle Justin's house, a walk to a coffee shop that happens to also serve puppy treats...). They despise being held up by their leashes attached to a pole, but even that indignity is above getting their paws wet from the buckets of water that cleans away the urine. This from the very same dogs that walk through the pee and wouldn't care if the neighbors had to do it too.

There is a shrink wrapped doggie treat in the well of my passenger seat. It is in the shape of a long stick and meant for Yaz because she isn't into tennis balls the way Stan plays at the park. My hope is that with that giant food-toy I can get her running out there too. Somehow though, Stan has maybe figured out it is there, and he keeps wanting to jump into the front seat. He is a Very Smart Dog, especially for having spent the first part of his life homeless and untrained. Yaz has yet to take interest in this treat that has been kept hidden, but Yaz is also not the dog who knew I brought them a toy last week.

An aside: I walked into the condo with a huge Gap bag filled with empty grocery bags, a DVD, a Nalgene of water, my wallet and my keys. On top, but still hidden from view, there was a small stuffed animal, a blue kitty cat that someone found and gave to me. Stan greeted me that morning and then as I sat on the couch and said hello to Yaz, he did something he never does when I put a bag down on the couch.

Stan jumped up on the couch (only in the last two weeks has this become something he does on his own), walked toward the bag and started sniffing at it. Stunned, I just watched. There was a little part of me that wanted to tell him not to do it, but since it was not a purse or anything, since I couldn't figure out how he would distinguish my bag for picking up his dog-shit from their bags for picking up dog-shit, I just kept watching.

He sniffed and sniffed and then found the entry. Once there, he cautiously buried his body from nose to hind legs in the bag, all the while sniffing sniffing sniffing. Ever so slowly he backed up, not wagging his tail (all the crackling of the bags, the blindness of diving, the danger of being on the couch AND in a bag) but not quite tucking it all the way down. He emerged holding the blue kitty in his mouth. Then he simply sat next to the Gap bag and proceeded to remove the plastic eyeballs from the toy.

Nothing to do but watch... can't praise that behavior; can't help but be impressed with his savvy.

So..... at the beach Yaz went about her social way with the other dogs and other parents, checking out stuff covered in flies, and pretending not to know me. Stan acted like a two year old, wandering just far enough away to feel comfortable and then running back to push up against my legs and know that I am still there.

Eventually (with enough calling to Yaz) we ended up at the quieter end of the beach. Stan finally found a rubbed to the tan rubber tennis ball, so we played fetch along the way. Spent, I sat down. There was a playful dog nearby that chased Yaz around for a while, and since Stan has mastered Fetch (he actually brings the ball back to me now, instead of stopping 10 feet away and staring at it, waiting for it to throw itself) I got to rest and play.

Then (oh my!) Stan's tennis ball went into the water. About one foot away from his snout. Two puppy steps. And the water kept moving. So the ball kept moving. Stan kept watching it, ears perked up, tail up, head cocked with curiosity.

Someone playing with a swimming lab asked me if I wanted her to get it for him, but the couple that owned Yaz's friend and I were having so much fun watching him try to stay dry and grab the ball at the same time that I said, "No, he's having fun just watching it move along. He can get it. He just needs encouragement."

We'd been cheering from a far, but the ball moved further toward the ocean from the inlet, so I got up to follow him and kept saying, "You can do it, Stan! You can do it! Go for it! Just a little bit closer!"

Finally he went went went and grabbed.

"Yay Stan! Good job! Good job!!!!"

It was beach-wide cheering.

Satisfied with his manliness, Stan trotted back to our area and sat for a while gnawing on the ball. Then he got up and waited for me to throw it. I threw it near the water, and he picked it up and then dropped it on the downhill slope so that it rolled into the water.

He'd found a game he liked--a dream came true: the emotional challenge of chasing the ball without the need of someone to throw it.

People were starting to go home as it got later, so I started back toward the other end of the beach and they followed me. We chased each other and played fetch a long the way. At the car they took turns being toweled off and then fell asleep on the ride home.

Bath time!

Long walk to dry off!

Aunty 'Laina, please let us just lie down.

And that is the story of how Yaz and Stan got me through the day without letting me go nuts.

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