Dogs were the first species we domesticated — many thousands of years before plants and other animals.
I’ve been feeling depressed and stressed all weekend. It’s no big deal. I wrestle with moderate depression and this was one of the bad times.
This morning, I went out walking with Minnie first thing to beat the heat. I don’t like exercising first thing in the morning but it’s necessary when it’s hot out, particularly with Minnie. And I do like being done with exercising first thing.
I got back home showered, got my and Minnie’s breakfast together, and hit my desk to read the news. I read a couple of articles about the election and lifted my hands to blog about them–
— and then I said screw it, the world can do without my election insights today.
And suddenly my mood lightened.
Disclosure: I did end up doing one political post today, and a comment on someone else’s political post. But too much thinking about politics just grinds you down. And it alienates you from people you might otherwise like just fine.
P.S. Lately, Minnie is in the habit of picking up trash on the way back and carrying it in her mouth, often the whole way home. Today’s treasure was a transparent Starbucks cold drinks cup. She got it about three houses down from home and then put it down, and couldn’t seem to figure out a good way to pick it up again, even though she’d already done it twice. I picked it up and carried it home and deposited it in our trash. My thumb rule is that if she gets trash back to our street it is my responsibility, but until then if she drops it I just leave it where it is, figuring it was ALREADY litter before she picked it up.
Minnie is 30 in dog years. That’s almost Assistant District Attorney in actress years.
As children, my brothers and I never had dogs or cats. Now, as adults, we all have dogs, and Julie and I have cats too. My middle brother was the last to convert; he and his new family just adopted his first dog a week ago.
I advised my brother from the vantage point of my three years’ greater experience. I said:
Several times over the course of the next few months you will feel like an abject failure, like you have been unable to succeed at this simple thing — raising a dog — that any moron can accomplish. You will feel that you did the dog a disservice by adopting her. You will feel utterly worthless as a human being, like the lowest slime that ever climbed out of a toxic waste dump.
This is normal. Nothing to worry about!
It’s 95 degrees out and I’m hunkered in the air conditioning in my home office, with the door closed to keep the heat out. Minnie is having fun messing with the remote control door operator.
I am the remote control door operator.
Cat behavior specialist Sarah Ellis says cats can be trained. It just takes a little more patience than with dogs. She’s got a book on the subject, “The Trainable Cat,” with co-author John Bradshaw. And she talks with Terry Gross on the Fresh Air podcast.
Who Says You Can’t Train A Cat? A Book Of Tips For Feline-Human Harmony – Fresh Air podcast
The next-door neighbors have two weimaraners, which are often out late in a dog run in their backyard. The dog run goes right up to the edge of our driveway, along the property line. When I walk Minnie before bedtime, the weimaraners are often in the yard, and there is much barking and excitement and lunging.
Last night I was walking Minnie and the dogs were at it. I remember Minnie lunged on the leash. I remember the driveway coming up and punching me in the face. That was not very nice of the driveway. I never did the driveway any harm.
Then I’m lying face down on the pavement.
Fortunately, nothing broke. Not my glasses, which were not riven into shards which plunged into my eyes. Not my back, which is what happened when Julie took a similar spill three years ago. Not my Pebble smartwatch or iPhone, which are far less important than eyes and a back but which would have been expensive to replace.
I’m not sure what I was doing when I fell. I remember I did not have a proper grip on the leash. I wasn’t doing something with my iPhone; it was in my pocket. I think I was setting the timer on the Pebble watch. I do that every night to be sure I walk Minnie for at least 20 minutes.
I got to my feet and retrieved the end of Minnie’s leash, before she could run away. She had no idea anything was odd, parked at the side of the dog run, barking vociferously.
Minnie was fine through all this. Indeed, she was completely unaware anything was wrong or unusual — happy, tail wagging, barking away at the weimeraners. You hear about dogs whose masters fall down and have a heart attack and the dog escapes from the house and summons the neighbors for help. Minnie is not that dog. Minnie is clueless.
I swore quite a bit, and loudly. I was very creative.
I went back inside to take inventory. “Look at what YOUR DOG did,” I told Julie.
I went back out. The weimeraners were nowhere to be seen or heard. I suspect the neighbors may have heard my editorializing. They’re very nice neighbors and the whole thing is really not their fault. They go to church regularly. I took the name of the Lord our God in vain when I was commenting on the incident. Additionally, I took the name of THEIR Lord their God in vain. I’m Jewish, but yelling the name of the Christian savior is so much more satisfying when in distress than any language we Jews have generated. Especially when you use His full name. His middle name starts with F.
I finished walking Minnie without further mishap, other than my frequently giving her dirty looks. That’ll show her.
When I got back to the house I took a look at my face. All I have to show for the accident is a small ding on the bridge of my nose. I had really hoped to have some properly ghastly wounds to show for my mishap but nope. I did scrape up both of my knees but that’s hardly the same as some nice facial wounds.
My knees were scraped up. Getting scraped knees as an adult feels foolish. What am I eight years old?
Julie ministered me with some care, wrapping my knees in bandages, and doing so without adhesive, which would be painfully getting off of my copiously hairy legs. The bandages came halfway off in my sleep, I tore the rest off in the morning. Sorry, Julie! Thanks anyway for the ministrations!
And how is your first week of unofficial autumn going?
A woman carrying a parasol to protect herself from the sun.
Minnie’s reaction: Very excited. She wanted to plaaaaaaaaaay. Which was strange — we’ve seen women at the park many times carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Is a parasol that different? Guess so if you’re a dog.
Related: Minnie has different reactions to wheeled human-powered transportation machines: She’s afraid of conventional bicycles, loves skateboards and scooters and wants to plaaaaaaay, and is indifferent to recumbent bikes.
Three Buddhist monks wearing saffron robes, jogging.
That was a first. Lake Murray parkgoers are a very diverse bunch, which is one of the reasons I like it. We see people of all races and ethnic groups. We see Orthodox Jews, Hasids, and Muslims in traditional garb. But we’ve never seen robed Buddhist monks at the park before.
They didn’t seem to be doing too well with the jogging.
Minnie’s reaction: Indifferent.
A woman walking 11 dogs.
More or less 11. About ten of them were similar size and color, more-or-less golden-retriever-like. The 11th was half that size, with long wiry fur, and trailing far behind them on a long lead.
Minnie’s reaction: Indifferent, thank goodness. If Minnie had gotten excited and the dogs had gotten excited, that would have been some kind of Disney live-action comedy movie starring Dean Jones, with dogs barking excitedly and leashes getting tangled and me ending up in the lake.
When I got home, Julie asked, “Was it Sonya?” “Who?” I said. “You know, the woman who petsits for us when we’re both out of town,” Julie said. “She does dog-walking too.” “I have no idea,” I said.
We’ve been using Sonia Shoemaker and her husband Dennis at Pet Pals for nearly 20 years but Julie is the one who interviewed them and the only time I’ve met either of them was almost that long ago, when we got our dates confused and Sonya came to the house early, while I was in the living room, finishing packing. I admit when I heard the key in the door and realized what was going on I kept quiet just to see what would happen when she opened the door and saw me there. She was gratifyingly startled. (Pet Pals does a great job, by the way. If you’re in San Diego and need a pet sitter, they’re the guys to call.)
I don’t blame her. Garlic bread is delicious.
I want to work with Minnie on this. We’ve trained her haphazardly. She’s great — but maybe not perfect — on “come,” “sit,” and “down,” not so good on other things.
Where’s the part where you give her the command? I don’t see that here.
I was walking Minnie in the park Sunday like we do every day when I’m home. The temperature was in the mid-80s, which is not warm enough for me to bring water. It was a typical walk. We do about 3-1/4 miles at a moderate pace.
We had done three quarters of the route and were well on the way home when Minnie fell over while walking and struggled to get back to her feet. Once she got up she went over again. She was panting pretty hard too. It looked enough like heatstroke that I was quite concerned.
In the few seconds it took me to think that through, she’d regained the ability to stand and walk. I wanted to get some water in her but I had none and we weren’t near any. Fortunately, there was a couple picnicking nearby, and they gave me some cold water in a styrofoam cup. I brought Minnie to a shady spot and let her drink water at her own pace from my hand and the cup. When her breathing was regular again we continued the walk home, letting her set the pace. Nice and slow.
We’ve been keeping an eye on her and she’s back to her old self.
Lessons: Be careful about rushing Minnie while walking her. This will be tricky because if I let her set the pace she will stop and eat every damn thing.
And always bring water on our daytime walks, at least until November when the weather cools off.