The first sign of rain, and I make a mad dash for a. the basement b. my crate c. a bed where I shiver and shake and wait for you to comfort me. You might wrap me in a towel and give me Dr. Bach’s remedy. You also turn on calming, classical music. It helps me.
You want to know why? I am not a flower or a blade of grass that needs rain to grow. I am a dog that understands that rain might mean thunder or lightning. I am very scared of loud noises.
Because I am a sheepdog and not a retriever, I don’t like loud noises of any kind. I’ve already told you I don’t like rollerblades or skateboards. I don’t like guns. When you raise your voice and sound angry, I am frightened too. I come to you or to my daddy and sit by your feet and look up into your eyes. I can’t do that with rain. Sheepdogs want their people and their environment to be under control so they can listen properly in case there’s work to do.
Advice from Oliver: Last time when I wrote about friends, I forgot to give advice, so this will be a twofer…two pieces of advice for the price of one. My advice from last time is: Friends come in all sizes, shapes and colors. If they don’t jump up on me or bite my tail, I don’t care what they look like.You can make all kinds of friends too. Just try it.
For today, my advice is: Help each other feel safe. Not all creatures are afraid of the same things.
I have a new friend named Walnut. He is very small. He lives in the yard of an old friend named Susan. Susan has always had cats. When we went to her house, I ran to her back door to look for her cats. I could smell them, but they didn’t come to the door. Instead, I had to settle for this little white fluff ball you called Walnut.
You brought Susan a magazine called “How Dogs Think.” You thought she might need it since she has only had one dog in her lifetime and cats don’t think. You also brought Walnut a red squeaky ball but he could hardly get his mouth around it. His mouth might grow. I never tried to take Walnut’s new ball because he looked like he couldn’t defend himself against my big beautiful pink mouth.
I like Walnut because he doesn’t jump up on me the way so many puppies do. He sits and watches me. If I lift my leg on a bush, his tiny eyes focus on me but he doesn’t come too close. I like that in a puppy–distance. He is about as big as I was when I was born. You were very happy I was on my best behavior with Walnut. Mostly I ignored him. There was another dog next door behind a fence. She was much more my size, but she couldn’t come over because Susan said two dogs was plenty.
Since it was Susan’s yard, I couldn’t whine about it, especially since one little dog is better company than none at all. I had to settle for Walnut, the little staring dog. Susan is very happy to have Walnut the same way you are happy to have me. Dogs come in all sizes. Walnut is little and I am big. We are both very good dogs. Actually, we look good together, don’t you think?
Yes, I know this isn’t the most grammatical title in the world, but it’s assonant. That means the vowels repeat (me, heat, repeat) themselves. I just wanted to send out a quick word to let you know that lest you think you’re the only dog with problems, know that I walk around every day with a heavy fur coat on my back, which is no fun in the terrible heat. I can’t go swimming because I itch so much afterwards that I need an anti-itch pill called Apoquel, and I’m up all night biting myself with my sharp canines. I have sharp canines because I am a sharp canine.
The “quell” part of Apoquel is what the pill does to stop me from itching. It works somewhat. It doesn’t take away my itch to go in to the lake and feel the lake all around my body. I love to swim. It’s like floating in heaven on a liquid cloud. I am sending you a photo of me hanging off the edge of the dock, hoping you will let me go in. We debate almost daily whether it is worth it…to swim or not to swim. Every once in a while you let me go in to the lake, under strict supervision. Today you said no again and only let me watch you. I am tied up on the dock where I watch you swimming. That makes us both sad. I know you wish I didn’t have itchy skin so we could swim together.
This is what is called a dilemma.
Advice from Oliver: Sometimes it’s no fun to wait. I am a hopeful dog. That’s just one of the many reasons you love me. Maybe today I can go swimming.If not today, maybe tomorrow.Hoping is hard work.
Sometimes I feel low. It could be my vantage point.
I leap up when it’s time to go outside again. I jump right up in your face so you know how happy I am. You grab my harness, put baggies in your pocket for my unmentionables, and tuck treats in your other pocket to tempt me in case I hear a skateboard. You throw a hat on your head, tie a mask around your face, and off we go.
I am so happy. I can never get enough walking. We walk with a lot of friends. I smell them all.
They smell good to me. Every single one. They pat me and say, “HELLO, Oliver!!”
If it’s hot when we walk, I get tired and thirsty. Last week, we walked a very long way. You told me it was 5 and a half miles. Woof. I was hungry and thirsty. I am a sheepdog and I wear a heavy fur coat. We try to talk far away from other people so they don’t bump into us. Halfway through our very long walk, we found a lake and I waded in and slurped up the lake water. When we got in the car, you gave me ice in my metal bowl. It felt good in my mouth. Thank you.
I slept for a long time the next day.
My life is good. I am a lucky dog. I have you. You are lucky you have me.
I wish everyone could be so lucky.
Advice from Oliver: Walking keeps the lows away. Try it.