FUNNY THINGS PEOPLE SAY TO US AT THE AIRPORT

We work at the MSP airport as a therapy team. We wag with more people in one hour than most people do in six months. We stand underneath a big chartreuse sign that says, “Animal Ambassadors. Pet me.” All kinds of people come and pet me: people pushing brooms, people pushing baby strollers, people in uniforms pushing little wheelie things. Most of them stop to talk to me when I wag my tail. They can’t resist. You say: “Get down to his level and scratch him behind his ears. He loves that.” Sometimes I don’t love it like when people smell peculiar. I back up so they can’t touch me. I am an ambassador so I try not to hurt their feelings.

We hear a lot of funny things. Once a man said, “My pitbull dog couldn’t hit water if she fell out of a boat.” I felt sad for the dog, falling out of a boat, but I wagged my tail anyway.

Another funny one was: “My King Charles Spaniel Fanny wears chandelier earrings, pink toe nail polish and a tutu. She comes to us when she wants her nails painted.” I come to you when I want an elastic in my hair so I can see, but I don’t understand why Fanny wants her nails painted.

One lady was so excited to see me, she was wiggling in her shoes, dancing in a funny little pattern. When she got close to me, she was so happy it made me happy too. We both wiggled. 

Another man said his black lab was almost perfect but he barked at dogs on television. One time his labrador tried to jump through the screen. I understood that because I do not like skateboarders, which my regular readers know. (Look up “Is There Such a Thing as a Bad Dog?” in my old blogs.)

You talked for a long time with a man who trained puppies to become service dogs for wounded veterans. I’m proud of service dogs and of the trainer.

One woman with a long garment bag said she was on her way to elope in Montana. Her mother, from New York, and her fiancé, from California, were trailing behind her. She and her groom had flown in coming Georgia. That’s four states to make a marriage. Dogs don’t need garment bags.

I get around too but only powered by my own paws or car tires. I haven’t traveled in a plane although a lot of women in uniforms have invited me, saying, “You act a lot better than some of the dogs who come on board.” 

After an hour with all these funny airport people, I’m exhausted. I turn my whole body away from the people and give you one of my “time to go home” looks over my shoulder. 

Advice from Oliver: You can make a lot of people happy just by letting them pet you.

BELVEDERE AND I

You thought I needed a brother. I greeted him all-pawed as I do everyone. He hid under a chair. I don’t know why.

You pay a lot of attention to him. I thought you were all mine. 

I like him fine. He likes me a lot and keeps sniffing under my fur. When he bites my fur, I walk a little faster.

The first night he cried every few hours. When you or Dad got up to take him out, you let me come out too. I lifted my leg right over his. That was fun. The world has to know who’s in charge.

Yesterday, he left the cage empty and went away in Stephanie’s car. I don’t know if he’s coming back.

I’m thinking about him. He wasn’t here very long. 

Advice from Oliver: Being a big brother is a lot of work. Not every dog is cut out for it.

BEDRAGGLED TO BEAUTIFUL

ME IN MY CONE LOOKING BEDRAGGLED

Above is my before photo. I am sad and smelly and weary after almost two weeks of wearing a dreadful white plastic cone around my neck.  My wonderful doctor removed a lumpy cyst from my eyelid, but then you made me wear this noisy, ugly, white thing. I even walked around outside with it where other dogs and people could see me. One person called it a lampshade. Oh, dog, I am such a good sport! I never complained. I never tried to take it off. Well, only once. I am a very good boy.

I was rewarded. I was so excited to go to the vet, I practically ran inside. I knew what was coming. He removed my eyelid stitches with a sharp, shiny instrument. You held my legs firmly on the cold table and told me I would be okay and I believed you. You discussed how thin I’ve gotten and I listened and was very happy that you said I could eat more since I love to eat.

BONNIE, THE BEST GROOMER, WHO MAKES ME BEAUTIFUL

After my stitches were gone, you drove me to the groomer who makes me beautiful. Her name is Bonnie. Isn’t she cute? She has been grooming me and all my predogcessors since 1972. She doesn’t look that old, does she? That’s because dogs make her laugh and sing. I like Bonnie even though I don’t like her hair dryer. Hair dryers are second to skateboards in my opinion.

Doctors and groomers make my life better. I am pretty close to perfect again.

Advice from Oliver: If you wait long enough, hard things get easier.

SOMETIMES

Sadness is the sister of Joy.

Sisters hold each other’s hands 

all through the night until morning.

My chin has been resting on my paws as I consider this. 

Sometimes, bad, sad things happen. 

Sometimes it takes a little time for my ears to perk up

to the melody of the plain clear sound 

of the White-throated sparrow 

or see the deep red flower 

hidden at the base of wild ginger. 

Friends lead me over soft paths strewn with yummy, fresh mulch. 

My heart thumps and my tail wags. 

Really good friends let me stray off the path, 

sniffing living things and bark I remember 

from trees born before I was.

Every second, someone’s outside light goes out. 

Some of their spirits I have known. Some I have not.

They glitter inside me when I dream. 

Sometimes I chase them.

I wish them all a beautiful flight into the heavens 

until I catch up, barking and leaping as I go. 

Especially noted today are sister Alex, Sally, Bob, and Daisy.

Advice from Oliver: We’re all family.

WAGMORE–BARKLESS

ME AND MY DAD

I have two big woofs today. The first one is something I learned from a vendor at the airport where we go to provide calm amidst the chaos in their program Airport Ambassadors—Wag more; bark less. Do you get it? I keep working on barklessness, but it’s impossible for me, especially when I see skateboards. They won’t be herded, that’s part of my problem with them.

But, that’s not the whole subject of my woof today. I fooled you. My other woof has to do with fluidity, going with the flow. I’m here to tell you I am gender fluid. That’s right. I’m here to announce I am a boy but it doesn’t offend me the least little bit if you think I am a girl. I wear a rubber band on top of my head, wrapped into a sprout which comes in all colors, including pink and other pastels, which, BTW, were once very popular for boys in the early twentieth century. I wear it so I can see everything better, not just to look cute. I love it when you put up my hair. 

Just so you, my reading audience, know. My scarves also come in all colors…you name it. My wag swagger is boy/girl. I can really swish my hips. I’ve just plain got it, regardless of my gender. 

People always ask, “Is it a boy or girl?” When they refer to me as “it,” they are thinking I can’t speak for myself and am just a neutral being. Well, we know that’s not true, don’t we? So, you always say, “Oliver is a boy.” But, even if you said I’m a girl, people would still think I’m adorable, so, really what difference does it all make? I want to be called by my name: OLIVER.

I will tell you about my dad, your sweetie, in another blog.

Advice from Oliver: Care less about gender and more about wagging.

WHAT MATTERS

This photograph was taken by Eleanor, my first little girl. She’s already a teenager, but she will always be my first little girl. (Bowie, my California baby, is my second.) I don’t really know what Eleanor’s relationship is to me. Sister? Cousin? Friend. What matters is she loves me. This time she took my photograph in the setting sun. Notice the fetching stripes of sun on my face?  I think she captured me on my best side.

When Eleanor was very little, she and her little brother, Eliah, used to come bounding into our house for drive-by hugs. Their mother, your daughter, parked in the driveway, put one foot up on the dash, and played Words with Friends while the kids came in for cookies or fruit. Then we’d all chase around the house. I barked and they giggled.

When she comes over now, she still combs and brushes my hair. Sometimes she makes French braids, but when I shake all over, the braids disappear. Then, I’m wild and free again. She spends a long time creating beautiful hair-dos and she doesn’t seem to mind when her artistry is altered. It’s easier for her to brush me now that I’m more mature. She doesn’t have to chase me all around. Afterwards, I still roll around on the rug until my hair returns to normal. I feel much better when she’s finished.

It’s like a mandala. The fun is in the doing. When the beautiful work is complete, the artist pours every grain of sand back into a pile. When I shake, all my hair flows back into its natural pattern and my sprout sticks up on top of my head as usual. It feels much better. 

Eleanor and Eliah are taller now, but I stayed the same size. In fact, they are taller than you. From the time I was two years old, I was full grown, but I have a big head. I need every inch of brain to figure things out. What I figured out today is that I will sit quietly for Eleanor when she brushes my hair because she loves the result more than I do and I want her to be happy.

Advice from Oliver: Sometimes we have to sacrifice for love.