My very dear friend and client, Maggie passed away this evening. It is an honour that I was entrusted to care of this lovely girl in her twilight years. Maggie taught me about grace and resilience. She reminded me that sometimes you need to slow down, find a shady spot and enjoy a summer afternoon. Maggie I will miss seeing you laying under the trees in your front lawn…I will just miss you Maggie😘
I had a rather thought provoking walk with my friend Newton last week. We are having some work done at our house and my being away in the middle of the day to walk wasn’t conducive to the decisions that needed to be made with where to put a niche in the shower, the spacing for my pendant lights and all the other minute details. Thankfully I have wonderfully flexible clients that allowed me to bring my girl friend to my house for the day…that way we got our walk, she had her lunch and pee breaks and the bonus of buddies to hang with during the day and the contractors got their questions answered when the need arose. My daughter was also part of the equation to facilitate my plans for the day, she was good enough to get up fifteen minutes earlier so she could give me a ride before she had to make her forty-five minute commute to work so I could collect my charge. On the ride over, I suggested instead of being driven all the way back home, that she could drop us off part way up the road, since Newton and I needed a morning walk anyway. My lovely child was insistent we didn’t need to walk home, but it didn’t make sense to take her ten minutes out of her way when we could enjoy a nice stroll through the quiet streets that we were going to take anyways.
As we neared the juncture that made sense for us to take our leave, my daughter pulled over. I jumped out of the front seat, opened the back door and grabbed the leash. Newton came willingly, but looked rather confused when my daughter drove off without us. As we walked up the hill in the direction of home my girl friend kept pausing, looking up at me with a puzzled expression. I realized that her tail was between her legs and she was acting rather timid. I was chatting away to her as per usual, but she just wasn’t her typical happy go lucky self. After some thought, it occurred to me that my canine companion had misread the situation….I believe she felt that we were expelled from the car, abandoned at the side of the road by someone whom she considered her friend. Like some scene out of a movie where the driver is angered by their passenger and pulls over to the side of the road and says “GET OUT…” That wasn’t the case, but I think things happened so fast and unexpectedly, that is what Newton thought. Perception is an interesting thing, we humans believe we have the market cornered on misinterpreting a moment…but we do not! Dogs and cats are very used to our habits and the usual dynamics of the group, when we deviate from the normal routine it can give them pause to wonder what is going on. It wasn’t until we reached my front door that my four legged friend seemed more at ease, her tail began to wag and she was excited by the idea that she was going to see Lucas and Romeo. It was like she had an “ah ha” moment, and was now understanding what we were doing.
The next morning we went and grabbed Newton, as we neared the spot where we were going to get out to walk the remainder of the way I suggested that my daughter give her a little kiss on the head and say good bye. It was interesting, this time my friend didn’t seem reluctant or offended by being left at the side of the road. It gave me pause to evaluate that it is important for me to remember to be mindful of the feelings of my four legged companions. Helping them to go with the busy ebb and flow of our human world is an important thing to be mindful of. As one can see from the picture I snapped of her later that afternoon, Newton was quite happy to relax and go with the flow!
I had some interesting thoughts this morning as Lucas, my spouse and I went for a pokey walk in the rain! We were all rather soggy and slowly making our way back to the house…the first revelation my husband shared was that we had some how forgotten about day light savings time…I had been fussing that we were behind schedule, turns out that my timetable was perfectly intact and in fact we could meander. We were in the home stretch and our lovely old pooch was moving so slowly, his need for a leash was rather futile, we decided we might as well allow him a little freedom. He had just finished a light jog across the field in the park and was making his way up the street towards our house, I was a little ahead of the pack when I heard my spouse say “Wow…you really are getting old, in your younger days you totally would have gone for that Squirrel!” There was a furry grey little guy, quite brash really, sitting a few yards from Lucas, munching on an acorn, completely non-phased by seventy-one pounds of canine that stood rather intently watching him eat.
This lead me to my second thought, I mentioned that the squirrel was like an attractive young woman…in Lucas’ younger years yes, he wholeheartedly would have gone after that bushy rodent and interrupted it’s morning meal. It’s not that he couldn’t pursue it, it’s that he didn’t need to. In one’s younger days the chase is what life was all about…but now, he can stand back and he can appreciate the squirrel in a whole new light. I said to my hubby “You will become enlightened like our old boy one day too….you will see the “squirrel” which for you will be a lovely young thing in Lululemon and you will stop and stare for a moment, you will look back on your youth briefly and reminisce how fun those days were to flirt with such notions. Then you will return to reality and you will realize that if you did go after such a prize and catch it, what would you do with? You would recognize that you are way beyond such antics…so instead, you will look with longing for a few moments and appreciate the sight before you and then you will move on to much more rewarding ideals, like the warm couch at home where you can take a wonderful nap and dream.” When you get to be an old fart you comprehend that in one’s fantasies the outcome is more satisfying, the idea of catching that squirrel would be far more rewarding than the mess and trouble ensnaring one in real life would result in! With age, comes wisdom and my dear old boy has figured things out! He thought “Hey, that is one hell of a juicy looking squirrel, all fattened up for winter… ‘hukuna matata’, I am going home where it is warm and dry!”
It is all right to be afraid… And yet, sometimes the way we deal with our fear is extremely counter intuitive! Some people are afraid of heights, others spiders and the one I most commonly experience…a fear of dogs. I do not judge those that are apprehensive around my four legged friends, I can empathize what it is like to feel an indescribable anxiety over something….I have been known to have a panic attack if I encounter a few serpents seizing the opportunity to bask on a rock in the warm sunshine. Of course I know that those slithering creatures have no interest in me whatsoever, in fact, they would appreciate it if I would continue on with my walking and leave them to soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays.
As of late, I have encountered numerous individuals who have announced, and rather overtly I might add, their fearfulness around the companions I am walking with! I would like to start off with stating that I can usually recognize in advance, if a person is nervous around dogs, I sense it in their body language well before we approach. Even if I don’t perceive those traits, my usual modus operandi is to steer a path around people we encounter when we are out walking to be safe, rather than sorry. And yet, despite my best efforts to practice avoidance, I have had some bizarre experiences with people who experience Cynophobia ( which is a fear of dogs). Last week one of my clients and I were strolling along the street, I spied a few ladies up ahead and was culturally sensitive to the fact that they most likely experienced a sense of uneasiness around canines. I made sure as they approached that my companion and I meandered out on to the grass, ensuring we would be no where close to one another. Imagine my surprise when one of the young women approached us, and asked directions. I was in the process of trying to remember where the road met up with the one they were looking for, when my furry friend at my side moved ever so slightly. Much to my surprise, the woman who was standing quite close to us, let out a squeal and exclaimed she was terrified around dogs? I felt rather irritated, I don’t mind helping someone who is lost, but if one has a fear of dogs why stop the dog walker…and most importantly…screaming isn’t the brightest defense mechanism around an animal!
Fears are sometimes based in reality, I think my discomfort around snakes dates back to when I was ten and my Dad’s buddy wanted to catch a Rattlesnake and put it in his cooler and have me sit on the flimsy plastic box, while he drove with it in his van so he could photograph it a more photogenic location. Thankfully my Father prevailed and the Rattler evaded capture and was permitted to slink off into the tall grass. I haven’t been a fan of anything that slithers since then! Occasionally, when I am out walking, a snake will inadvertently wriggle across my path and I will let out some ridiculous sound and commonly I will run the opposite direction. I am working on this irrational reaction, but I can say that a snake and a canine are about as similar as pandas and grizzly bears. If I could make a public service announcement to individuals who are frightened by dogs to help them navigate the situation so that they stay calm and safe as well as the animal they encounter, I would feel rather empowered!
It is not a good strategy to yell at an oncoming dog walker, “I am afraid of dogs!” and then shriek or recoil. That is a sure fire way to get the wrong kind of attention! Basically, the pooch you are approaching can now sense your alarm and has become equally wary…such behaviour signals to them that they need to protect their human or depending on the dog, they think it is their job to make you feel better and now want to jump all over you in a futile attempt to make you happy. And let me say, I do empathize that there are people who will let their dogs off lead to run around in public places which is disconcerting for those who are not dog lovers. There is nothing more annoying than hearing a person call out “Don’t worry, he is friendly!” That is entirely not the point…we can’t assume, as my Mother would say, it makes an ass out of U and me, that we are all the same and that Fido is everyone’s elixir to a happy life!
We all need to be sensitive and in tune to others we encounter! Dogs are magnificent creatures, but not everyone has a shared experience of man’s supposed best friend. I would like to suggest if you are a person who is fearful of dog’s, try to remain calm when you happen upon one, breath and don’t scream! A couple weeks back one of my clients and I were walking along a path and a woman was approaching from the opposite direction, as she neared us she literally jumped onto the grass and shrieked. Not only did she startle the dog, she scared the begeezers out of me…she completely confused me, my friend hadn’t even glanced in her direction and we had nearly passed her when she decided to have her outburst. Thankfully, even though my companion reacted, we managed to pass by without any negative outcome. I will say though, I spent the remainder of our walk lamenting that things could have gone entirely differently and that I would like to give that lady a wee lecture on how not to behave if she wants to avoid unwanted attention. The pooch I was with went from calm and happy, to nervousand wanting to protect me.
It all comes down to fear…the way most of us deal with something we don’t like is to avoid it…if horror films are not a genre one doesn’t care for, you don’t go see the movie “Friday the 13th”. But things like spiders, mice and dogs are not as easy to eradicate from our day to day existence. How we react is the only thing we can control and this is something I would like all Cynophobes to take heed of! If you see a dog, on or off lead that is heading in your trajectory you can attempt to change your course, or you could move well off to the side and calmly state that you are afraid, but what you should not do is try and whisk past the animal while you are exuding your fear…animals can smell that! I can not emphasize enough, do not yell…scream….whoop…squeal…I know it is hard not to do that when you are afraid, but please, be smart. Again, I can relate, it is very hard to stay cool and level headed when one is afraid!
This may sound like a crazy idea…but I bet if you sat in a room full of puppies you might come out with an entirely altered view of man’s best friend. It is a tall order to ask someone with a phobia to remain non pulsed when faced with a tail wagging, fur covered representation of something that makes one’s heart race. I know I wouldn’t be able to sit in a snake pit without hyperventilating and transforming into a blithering idiot! I will remain realistic and just advise that if you don’t like dogs try to avoid areas where you know you will encounter them. And when the inevitable occurs, this is a coping mechanism that I try, when a serpent crosses my path, I retreat to my inner happy place. If you meander past the source of your angst and convince yourself that the pooch is a non issue, the outcome that should ensue should be pleasant and uneventful!
What I know for sure….screaming in the presence of man’s best friend is a huge mistake!
Let sleeping dogs lie…
Hmmmmm, this was the scene that met my eyes this afternoon! Looks like these fur babies had an exhausting morning!? My four legged friends did have a stroll to start off their day, that lasted about a half hour, and keep in mind, the dog on the left is 13 ish so our pace was more of a leisure one. Once we returned home the two found the couch and I headed out the door for to walk my friend Mia for forty minutes, followed by a thirty minute jaunt with Marcus and then another fifteen with my girl Sunny. No worries, they aren’t comatose, they did have a few bathroom breaks in between my comings and goings. I realized though, that after taking about 20,135 steps with my canine friends all before noon, it was time to tackle my ‘to do’ list before time got away from me and the afternoon walks were to commence! I did a couple loads of laundry, changed a bed, made soup and scones for dinner, ironed a few items and got the mulch, garbage and recycles out to the curb…while these two enjoyed a wonderful slumber! I have about fifteen minutes before I need to rouse these BFF’s and get them out for their second walk. I kind of would like to curl up on the couch with them on this chilly fall day, but I am painfully aware of the fact that there is no room for me and if I am dumb enough to enter that room and disturb the scene I will be leaving sooner than I planned! I am keenly aware that a potential trip to the bathroom will create a hub bub of excitement and a race to the front door ! Instead I quietly came into the office to do a bit of paper work and will let the sleeping dogs lie… It’s a dog’s life at my house!
This morning I was vacuuming and my dear old boy stretched, got off of his very comfy spot on the couch and meandered over to the door, so I let him out in the back yard and continued on with the task at hand. About ten minutes later, which is usually a sufficient amount of time for him to do his business, I opened the door and there was no dog standing there waiting for me. So I resumed cleaning the stairs. And then this little feeling started niggling at me, “Why wasn’t Lucas ready to come in? How unlike him…” I out into the yard and spied my boy, he was laying by the back garden, a spot I don’t usually see him resting in and I will admit…I got a sinking feeling in my gut. It is odd…there is this part of me that really hopes that this dog will be the one to check out on his own terms…to lay down and fall asleep and not get up one day. I have this vision of how much better or more peaceful it will feel if I don’t have to make that dreaded trip to the Vet to say good bye. He lay there and I stood on the deck staring at him with mixed feelings….he looked so peaceful and happy, but my inner voice was screaming…”NO, no…not today….I am not ready!” I was trying to make noise to see if he would stir, nope, he lay their very still….I couldn’t see his chest rising and falling. I wandered over to where he lay and stood over him, nothing. I knelt down beside him, my knees getting wet and kissed his head. Poor dog, I startled him, he jumped up, eyes wide. Up to that point he had been enjoying soaking up the sun’s rays without the disruption of my vacuuming noises!
It is hard to reconcile what we think we want…and what we actually want. All I can say is I am happy that he was just soundly sleeping today and hope, that one day….way down the line, that maybe he can move on when he is ready and hopefully I can share the same sentiment. And here is hoping that I don’t scare the dog to death in the interim, while I am checking for signs of life….I wonder if he finds it irritating that his people keep thinking he is ready to check out when he is just enjoying the warmth of the suns on a lovely autumn day?!
Mayday, Mayday! Our upstairs bathroom is desperately in need of a renovation! When we bought our house it was on the top of our to do list, but somehow life kept getting in the way…the furnace died, the back door leaked water ruining one section of floor in the basement and then the washing machine malfunctioned making it an unavoidable task that needed to be taken care of, not to mention, we had to replace the washer and dryer. I am afraid to jinx things, but finally after six years, a fence, two entry doors, a roof , the basement washroom, 14 windows, a garage door and countless other items that begged for attention, it’s time to rip apart the rotting walls, remove the broken sink and get rid of the leaky tub! Progress is a good thing…YES? I am not sure if that went to a vote in my house if all parties would concur! After some heavy rain this afternoon Lucas, my lovely old boy, went to his refuge, the bathtub. I stood there watching him climb over the side and nestle down and I was struck that the new tub that my spouse and I are overtly excited about…is longer, substantially deeper and the side is much higher, and to add insult to injury, we are erecting glass walls around it making it an inaccessible location for our pooch to retreat to. This new vessel of bathing bliss, which will actually inspire me to want to sit and relax in it, will no longer accommodate my anxious friend’s needs! I have been scratching my head wondering where the fourteen year old dog is going to go when it starts to thunder outside. Of course we aren’t going to grant a reprieve for that abysmal excuse to bathe in, but I am wondering would it be odd if I took out the spare bed in the guest room and stowed the bathtub in there for a rainy day? The dog is not going to be impressed with our fancy ideas to bring our bathroom up to snuff and I am envisioning him the day he realizes we have messed around with his panic room! I need to put my thinking cap on, thankfully, I have a couple months to find Lucas a new safe haven and try and transition him into it. And if worse comes to worse….we will have one hell of a conversation piece in the family room instead of a couch!