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. 

OUR CABIN

As soon as you pick up the oars and have me step into the orange leg holes and zip me up, I race down to the water and try to jump in the kayak before you’re ready. It’s very hard to control my joy.

Here I am in a kayak with you and cousin Sammy, wearing my life preserver. I sit very well and try not to wiggle, even when I see things that make me twirl and jump around.

If I go swimming, I break out in a rash. If I race around in the woods, I get Lyme’s ticks in my extra-long hair. Sometimes, it’s hard to be me. I have to watch from the porch when other dogs get to go swimming and chase around the yard. But, I am a very good boy. I try hard and I have to work at it. I’m happy to be in the company of dogs and people who accept me.

Advice from Oliver: Even when I’m different from other dogs, you still love me exactly as I am, and I love you. No one’s perfect.

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.