WHAT I AM GRATEFUL FOR ON THANKSGIVING DAY

MY FRIEND, HANNAH, WHO TOOK CARE OF ME, TOOK MY PICTURE WITH PIG.

I am full of gratefulness. I am grateful Hannah took care of me while you were gone.

At night, I get ready for bed by jumping on yours. I drop either pig or octopus or tug in just the right spot on the space between the towels you spread out for me. I let you know I am here for you whenever you decide it’s time to get into bed. You need me to remind you. I have to watch you so you don’t escape. I am grateful for your company. I jump off the bed once I know you are cozy. I move from place to place at night to keep you in sight—into my crate, onto the rug, onto the carpet, onto the bare floor. Sometimes you get up and then I have to follow you around wherever you go.

Every morning after we have slept and dreamed, I sit up at Daddy’s side and watch him very closely until he wakes up. Sometimes, I have to put a paw on the side of the bed and let him know I’m here and need to go outside with him. He pats me on the head, greets me, “Good morning, Oliver!” and talks to me and gets dressed and puts on his coat and my harness and out we go, into the beautiful world. 

Sometimes there’s a bunny to watch under the bushes by our house. Bunnies are funny and fast. Sometimes I want to go one way. Sometimes I want to go another way. Daddy follows my lead. I like it when it is quiet early in the morning. I love the quiet. I can hear the bunnies better. I am grateful for you and Mom. You love me. I love you.

I am grateful for breakfast. Oh, dog, do I love breakfast. I wolf it down. (Wolves were my predecessors, after all.) I am grateful for wolves. 

I love when Mom turns on the radio and magical music plays and you and I sit and look out the front window. I slide my front legs down into a prone position and we look out at the world. It’s full of snow today. Walkers and bicyclists with headlamps move down the path. I am grateful for music and our front window.

The paperboy drives up and throws the newspaper on the front deck. I run to the door and put my nose on the bells so they’ll jingle. You open the door and I grab the paper with my strong teeth. Today it was extra heavy. I bring the paper to the kitchen and you trade it for a treat. Quid pro quo. I am grateful for treats. You are grateful for the paper.

Daddy is cooking a big bird in the kitchen. It smells good. Thank you for good smells.

I am grateful to be alive. When I carefully scratch at the door to the deck, you let me outside again. You know what I want and when I want it. I sniff into the cold wind and feel my hair blow back. I look at the people who park on the street. I have to bark at them to let them know I’m in charge. You open the door, tell me “no bark!” I come back inside and lie down at your feet. The music is still playing.

I am waiting for a long walk around the lake. I’ll jump up at grab the leash in my teeth and we’re off!  People see my eyes and say, “He’s a happy dog!” They are right.

Advice from Oliver: Be nice to your friends.They might let you play with toys like pig. Listen to music. Feel the wind in your fur. Smell the birds. Watch the bunnies. Keep good company. Take long walks. Be grateful.

VISITING KENWOOD SCHOOL

I can always tell when we’re walking to Kenwood. There are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood, so I have a lot of sniffing and pee mail to catch up on before we arrive at the building. My nose is very busy. When we go into the building, I try not to run. You press a buzzer, the door clicks open and we strut into the office. Heads turn to look at us. I like going to school. I twirl around a few times to see if anything has changed.

This is Danielle.

Danielle, the secretary, is one of my best people. When I come to Kenwood School, she always says, “Hello, Oliver!” and I put my feet up on her counter so I can see her better. I’m really not supposed to do that. I am supposed to keep my feet planted on the floor, but I can’t see what’s going on that way and sometimes, depending on who’s around, you pretend you don’t see me. It’s a little game we play.

Danielle and I are very excited to see each other. She usually gets up from her chair and comes over to pet me. I talk to her in my Oliver talk. “Grrrowrrower!” She understands me completely. I don’t talk to very many people, only the unique ones who speak my language. We don’t use the same words, but we both understand a smiling face. Do you see how my paws and Danielle’s feet line up? We’re besties.

While Danielle and I are making eyes at each other, you write our names in a notebook.

Danielle unlocks the conference room door where I work with you and we listen to children read and write and tell funny stories. Sometimes . it’s very warm in the conference room and I have a hard time keeping my eyes open. If i go to sleep, I snore. That blows my cover.

You laugh a lot when you read with one of our favorite little girls. She likes to get down on the floor and play with me. I like to smell her boots. They smell of other dogs and a cat. She pretends she’s a feline, but I know she’s a girl. I am a canine, otherwise known as Oliver.

Advice from Oliver: I can tell who really loves me and who is just pretending. If you want me to talk to you, try being polylingual like Danielle.

A VERY LONG BIRTHDAY DRIVE

Last week, you had a birthday. I know your  birthday had a 7 in it like my birthday did, but I don’t remember the rest. We asked you what you wanted for your birthday. You said you wanted to drive all the way across Wisconsin to see some more dogs like me, a Bearded Collie. Well, there aren’t too many dogs like me around, because I am a very special dog. It took one very long birthday of driving to find them, but we arrived at a house where there were some dogs who did look like me. It was already late in the day and almost too dark for us to see, but they weren’t all the same color.

There were bigs and littles and puppies. I had a doggie good time running around in the grass. You stayed inside and talked to their mother. She has a lot of dogs. I heard she other dogs at another house. That is a dog-lot of dogs. You did not take any pictures, so you will have to imagine a lot of dogs in all sizes that look a lot like me.

I had to bark at the big boy dog because he was trying to show off and he needed to hear from me. His mother didn’t like my barking at him. (Not everyone loves me as much as you do.) I only barked a few times. After a while, I got tired of playing with so many other Beardies, and it was time to drive all the way back across Wisconsin to Minnesota again. 

On the way home, the two of you were talking about getting me a little brown sister, but I don’t really need one. Spring time is good for lambing, but I am not a lamb. Not by a long shot. 

It will be winter first and then we’ll see.

Oliver’s Advice: Sometimes, a “wait and see” attitude is best.

MY FEW SECONDS OF STARDOM

I’m not really a star. I’m just one of many wonderful therapy teams who make other people happy. I’ve told you a lot about what it’s like to be part of a therapy team. Now you can watch my brief little video to see for yourself. First you see my rear end with my wagging tail (I’m the only black and white shaggy one). Then, you see us together. I’m smart, but no tech genius, so if we’re very lucky, we can make this work.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1YzT5NjeQw&feature=youtu.be

Did you see us? We’re at the MSP airport. You can’t see all the people who come to visit and pet me. We average about 130 a day. We go to the North Rotunda on Friday mornings at 10 am, at least once a month. Security officers are some of our best customers. You think you feel stressed when they frisk you? Well, let me tell you, they must need us too because they go c-r-a-a-z-y when they pet me! “Oh Oliver, you are so wonderful. You make my day!” They thank us and show us all their happy teeth.

Please let us know if you like this video.

Oliver’s advice: If you want to be a star, help someone else feel happy.

WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER

            The above photo shows me with Daddy. I am behaving very well. We are showing off a pamphlet of some dog parks nearby. I haven’t been there yet, but I wanted you, my reading public, to know what is available for you if you feel like running around off leash.

Yesterday, you counted the number of times we drove to Old Pines…18. That’s 36 times this summer by my calculations. I had to watch you very closely to make sure you didn’t forget me when you packed the car. Sometimes, it was necessary for me to jump in and lie down among the grocery bags.

One of the best times of the summer up at Old Pines was what I call the Secret Snatching Caper. You had just eaten from the big and beautiful plate on the dining room table. I’ve never had that type of food before. You left quite an array of amazing sniffs on the table. After you and your friends had gone back outside on the deck, I ever-so carefully and secretly snatched what I could really fast. I made no noise except when I quietly licked my lips with my tongue. It was delicious, much better than my usual fare of sweet potato-venison kibble. When you came back in to get more food, I sat up, all four paws placed nicely, very innocently, under my beautiful body. I am an excellent snatcher—furtive, delicate, discriminating. I left all the cheese and cilantro. I took only the pastrami, salami and other such delicacies.

            You were not happy. Neither were the very nice people who brought all those marvelous muncheries to us in Wisconsin. Lip-smacking. Truly. I may not get another chance to partake of that fare again.

            Another fun time shortly thereafter was when you and Dad and I were parked in the Byerly’s grocery store lot. I was unleashed in the back, and it was very hot. You disappeared into the store. Dad opened the back gate and turned his back on me for just an instant. I hopped out of the car and hot-footed it toward the automatic doors. I held my head high and pranced right in through two sets of doors, as if I owned the joint. I smelled something exactly like the marvelous munchery meats I discovered at Old Pines. Oh, dog!! I saw a big sign that said DELI and sat down in front of the meat case like a good boy, offering up one of my finest smiles. 

            Before the lovely apron ladies had a chance to reward me, Daddy reappeared and my second summer caper, Escape into Byerly’s, was over.

            I don’t know what fall will bring. I hope it’s just as exciting. Please stay put for awhile, will you? It’s hard to keep up with your comings and goings. 

Advice from Oliver: Have as much fun as you can at all times. You never know where it may lead.

MY AWARDS

I have just been groomed because it’s my seventh birthday today.

I’m not one to brag. Dog shows, agility competitions, herding trials—we don’t believe they are worth our brief time on earth. I could perform very well in any of those three areas since my good looks, athleticism, and abilities are all superior. (I was just born that way, so I can’t really take any credit for it.) We’d rather serve as a therapy team. When people pet me, they feel better inside themselves.

Just today, we were walking around the lake and met the most beautiful couple sitting on a park bench, enjoying the view. They were shining all over their faces. The sun in their hearts lit them up. They smiled at us, looking like they wanted to say hi, so we approached. I wagged my tail and walked right up to them. It was true, they wanted to pet me and knew exactly what to do. They said what so many of them say, “Shaggy D. A., he’s just like the dog in that movie! Did you see it?” Then they petted me, scratched gently behind my ears. Wow. We all felt so happy.

“Yes, I did see that movie, and you’re right, he’s like that dog…same breed, but this name is Oliver,” you said to them.

“Oh, Oliver!” they said, “I love you, Oliver!” They sparkled in their eyes and all over their cheeks and mouths. We’d never met before and we immediately loved each other. Isn’t it wonderful? I wanted to crawl right into their laps, but I would never do that, even with you. I am quite reserved about my affection. I don’t lick anyone except small children who are wearing jam or ice cream.

“Thank you,” said the beautiful couple, “for saying hi.” All of us glowed for a long time after that. I felt it under my fur. My tail was wagging higher and I was not so anxious about skateboards or other terrible sounds coming by me without asking. I will keep those shiny people in my dreams all day as I sleep on the deck.

I don’t need ribbons, but I’ll take a treat anytime, before, during or after a meal. Last week, even though I didn’t ask for an award, a very good friend named Bunny, her husband Jay, and her dog Issy (a girlfriend, if you have to know), sent me two Boy Scout Merit Badges. I sniffed them and they didn’t emit any foul odors. You explained to me that to get a Merit Badge, you have to pick a subject (there are 135), use the Scout Buddy system (tell your unit leader at a meeting), call the merit badge counselor (woof, woof). I didn’t do any of those things.

I completed my requirements without even trying. You spoke for me when you told Bunny what I’ve accomplished. Also, Bunny has been reading my blog so she’s read about my work.  I think she’s probably more generous with her awards than some leaders. One of my awards is for Kayaking and the other is for Aviation. Look closely at my two photos. Sitting still while kayaking is a skill I’ve mastered; letting people pet me in the MSP airport is what I do to earn my Aviation award. We appear some Friday mornings under the Pet Me signs in the North Rotunda. 

Bunny and Issy’s predogcessor appeared in one of my earlier blogs: April, 2017, called I HAVE A NEW FRIEND. It’s in verse form, called doggerel. That’s a special kind of rhyme that dogs use to bounce to the beat.  Bunny is a devoted reader, fan, and friend. I love her. So, when we got my awards in the mail, my daddy bought special bobbins for his amazing sewing machine and sewed my awards on a black and white scarf that matches my hair. How do I look? 

Advice from Oliver: Love what you do. You might get an award in the mail without even asking. 

OLIVER RESTING UNDER HIS LAURELS

GUNSHOTS

               

I am very afraid of all noises that sound like guns. I am not the type of dog that fetches ducks in the water after someone has shot them dead. As you can see by the photo above, I like to be close to my family. I am a herding dog. Baa, baa sheep—that type of dog. There is a big difference between me and a golden retriever. My tail wags and I bark with excitement at the prospect of rounding up errant animals, including human beings. Fetching dead feathered things after someone has pulled a trigger and then leaping into the water to bring it back to my person with a soft mouth—not so much.

Fireworks come under the category of scary sounds The fourth of July means many things to many people. To me, it means I take cover in the back of my cage behind the furnace, which drowns out the sound of fireworks. I like music too, especially cello, piano or guitar. 

In the photo above, I am with Eleanor, my favorite Minnesota girl. We are being peaceful, quiet, and loving on the lake. I love Eleanor. I love being quiet on the lake where all we hear is our kayak paddle and our kayak moving through the water and the lily pads. Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we’ll see loons. We try to get just close enough not to scare them but close enough to see the beautiful white spots sprinkled on their backs.

Dogs have a keen sense of hearing. Dogs like me, who are already very sensitive, can be permanently traumatized by fearful noises. Believe it or not, we get PTSD. Just ask my predogcessors, Shadrach and Samoset, two fine dogs who leap around in doggie heaven—that is, if you can make yourself heard that far.

You already know, if you’ve been reading my blog, that skateboards are anathema. 

I have been very sensitive lately to other wheels as well. Rollerblades, scooters, segues, all of those awful inventions that sneak up behind me when I’m not looking. Terrible. Awful. It’s as though you have lifted my extra long ears and blasted me with the worst sound imaginable directly into my neurological system leading to my brain. Remember that next time you plan to light off a firecracker or plug in your little white wires and skateboard down my sidewalk.

Advice from Oliver: Please be sensitive and respectful. I am a dog, and you have a lot of power to overwhelm my delicate sensibility.