OLIVER SPEAKS FROM HOME

IRIS, MY SISTER, PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING
It’s very dark in there. She likes it that way.

Hello, my dear friends, I don’t think you’ve heard about Iris and Daisy, but they are not as sociable as I am. You can see Iris in the photograph above. She is hiding under the covers. She likes it there but you would never catch me under the covers. That’s because our progenidogs come from different climates. Our continents divided us. Mine was Europe as in Scotland. Hers was Africa as in Rhodesia. But now we live in America. We are immigridogs.

This enforced isolation is very hard on me and on my family. We are doing our best. We have had to cancel more activities than you can shake a stick at, and you know how much I love shaking sticks. No more airport. No more children. No more University. No more scarves that show me off as who I am, a therapy dog. No more showing off period–just walks outside in the air with a friend who can’t hug me or anyone else. I love our friends. I am grateful we can smile all over each other and wag our tails.

But, this means you will stay home more and I will stay home more and Daddy will stay home more. We will straighten and clean and read and write and listen to music and all those wonderful things we really do love to do. So it’s going to be okay!!

We are very lucky to have kibble in our bowls and a warm place to sleep. It’s okay to have less to do.

Advice from Oliver: We still have love. We can fill any cart with that.

THE MOST FUN THING: My snow ring

SNOW ON MY NOSE

After rubbing my face over and over making little tunnels on the lake, I made snowballs in a thick delicious ring around my nose. Running and rolling in the snow is my most fun thing.

Today we invited a cute little hound named Wanda to go running on the lake with us. She looked fast, but she was kindof a scaredy-dog.. Her parents were very surprised to find out I am seven years old. If I didn’t run around outside so much, Wanda would have kept up with me, but I ran circles around her and she couldn’t keep up. Fresh air keeps me young.

I have long hair, so I don’t need a sweater or jacket. Just fur–my own long silky fur. I am plenty warm.

On Valentine’s Day, we went to the airport and I set a record for myself. I let 244 people pet me. I have a lot of valentines, the most ever in my lifetime. Then it was time to go home, At home, I lay on the floor for awhile, but you said we needed to go outside to play with our favorite girl dogs named Iris and Daisy.

They are part of our extended family. They are bigger than I am, but, oh, Dog, do we ever have fun running around and chasing after each other. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are really fast. Iris thinks she’s a kangaroo, but Daisy knows she’s a dog. Together we are a trio of tricksters, leaping over each others backs (Daisy and Iris) and barking and nipping at heels (me).

Advice from Oliver: You could look as handsome and happy as I am if you went outside every day and played in the snow.

The Regulars at the Airport

Me and Mom and one of our many friends who love me

We had so much fun at the airport today. Oh, dog, I love going there. You and Dad put on your special green vests and badges and put me in the back with a backpack. We drive for awhile and then we find the exciting valet parking where there’s a lot of pounding. I have a lot of barking I have to do when the woman comes and shines her light and mirror inside the car and all underneath. I let her know I’m the one in charge and you tell her, “We have a dog in back!” When she’s done making sure we’re safe, she lets us proceed into the parking lot. I bet you want to know who the other regulars at the airport are:

Security: My harness sets off the alarm, but they usually pet me down. You and Dad have to hold up your arms and go through a big machine. I watch you patiently until we get together again. You always pet me and give me a treat. I love you. You love me.

Volunteer room: So many people there want to love me up, but first I have to drink from their big water dish. I drink it dry. You sign in and get a clicker to count how many people we see. Someone brings us chairs out to the North Rotunda where we like to be. I like the feel of the cold tile on my body because I have a lot of fur and I get hot. There are a lot of people who smile and laugh at us. That’s why we come. We all get happy.

Pilots: They pretend they’re not going to stop at our station, so they pass right by me, stop in their tracks, turn around, lean over and scratch me behind the ears. That’s my favorite spot and they know it. You give them one of my business cards and they prance away just like the white horses on your blanket.

TSA agents: They smile all the way across the rotunda when they see me. They bring sunshine. “Oliver! I’ve missed you!” they say and walk very fast right toward me to give me some love. I wag my tail a lot and sometimes I lie down and roll over to let them scratch my very private belly.

Passengers: One man who came to the sign that says, “Animal Ambassador, Pet me,” pet the poster with the picture of the dog with one ear sticking up instead of me. He was very funny. Then, after you looked at him and laughed, he decided to pet me too.

One man and woman had an English sheepdog that they showed us on their phone. He’s black and white ands about my size. He herds lawnmowers. He bites their tires and makes them go back in the garage. What a smart dog.

Children: My favorite, especially the ones that still have peanut butter and jelly on their faces. When they sit in their strollers, it’s easier to sniff their mouths to find out if there’s any left. I make them giggle and pet my face.

Airport Police: Today, you asked one if he was one of the mean kind that wouldn’t let people slow down to drop off passengers, and he said no and you said good. I saw that you were smiling, but I don’t think he understood you like I do. Poor man. He didn’t stay long, but he scratched me all over when you weren’t looking. He keeps us all safe so I like him.

To get this photograph of me and you and the wonderful man who drives a cart, an entire family helped. I do not like pictures. I turn around so you can’t see my face. You tried to trick me with treats, but I know how to eat the treat and not look into the camera. A very nice family of father, mother and tall son all stood in front of us and made us laugh. They stayed until you were satisfied with the picture.

I was petted by 161 people. When we came home, we took a nap. You slept for a long time under a big thick grey blanket with horses on it. Dad took me for a walk on the snowy sidewalk while you slept.

Advice from Oliver: When you go to the airport, be nice to the TSA agents and all the other people in uniform. They are some of my best friends and they are very soft and mushy and silly inside.

SNOWSHOEING AT OLD PINES ON SOLSTICE

       

We went snowshoeing on the lake this morning and then again at sunset. Sunset was at   4:26 p.m, a red streak across the lake. I ran after you and Dad and had to stop to bite sticks and snowbits that iced up between my pads. I wrote some doggerel. Read it aloud for special effect. 

SNOWSHOEING ON THE SOLSTICE

    I ran and ran, my pink tongue wagging,

   along with my tail, my body was bragging.

I had to stop to bite off bits; 

between my paws were icy chits.

I bit a stick, a stick I bit,

my favorite snack is well-bit stick.

I bit your snowshoes.

You waved your poles.

We all pressed forward making snow-holes.

Crossing the lake with shoes, poles and paws,

deer families before us

had  just as much cause.

All our patterns are very pretty.

The sky was singing its streaky, red ditty.

         This day was ours to chase and prance

to share the air in an outdoor dance.

         Advice from Oliver: If you snowshoe on the solstice, make it fast.

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.