Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tooth Fairy

"Orion, you only have four left. Could you please just let me have that one?" I say pointing at his canine tooth that's wobbling off the edge of his gum line.
"I really just want ONE for my medicine bag."
I try to open his mouth to check out the real estate. The poor pup has two new teeth popping up inside the gum line near his baby canines.
"Dang. That has to hurt."
He chews a little on my fingers.
I wiggle the loose one.
"Maybe I should just pull it out?"
I think for a moment. My eyes squish up. I just can't do it. What if he bleeds? I will be totally grossed out. I might even squeal and have to run out of the house and who knows if I do that if I can keep track of the tooth all the while I'm freaking out.
Not to mention how selfish I'd be to yank out a PUPPIES tooth.
"Okay. I can't do it."
He closes his mouth.
"We'll get down the foam soccer ball and hope for the best."

Warm and fuzzy

"Orion I just feel very special that you came over and curled up next to me."
Orion lifts his head to look at me.
"I just wanted to let you know that."
He bites my nose.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Swim Lessons

"Aw Mom just let him get in the creek!" a voice calls out from behind the trees.
"I'll let him get in once I get his poop in my pocket," I call back, slightly exasperated having just been walking in the creek and having a forty pound dog pulling one way as my respectable citizenship is at risk if I can't grab the poop he deposited in the park.
"Why do you want to have his poop in your pocket?" the voice calls back.
Where is this person and why on earth do they CARE what I'm doing??
"I don't want his poop in my pocket but there isn't a trash can and I don't want to fall on it so I'd rather it be in my purse."
There, done. Poop is bagged. We turn the corner to the stream bed and see a little old lady, pink plaid shorts with a cotton ball dog in her lap. Beside her an elderly gentleman with velco shoes and muddy knees is casually smoking a cigarette.
I walk through the water with Orion.
"I'm trying to teach him to swim," I say as we plow across the two inch water. "I don't have AC at home and he was hot so I thought I'd take him here to the stream bed."
"Well it ain't that deep here but there's some good pools up further the trail."
I walk right in the stream to a part that drops off.
"Well I don't actually know if he can swim yet because he's only five months old tomorrow."
"He's a big one. I bet he just knows how. I think my neighbor has one just like that. You aren't my neighbor by chance are you?"
I smile. Another girl earlier on the walk swore I worked at her vet. At least I'm getting some variety from Sarah Silverman. "No, I'm not your neighbor. I live in Norwood and I'm pretty sure I know all of mine."
"Well okay. I just haven't gotten around to meeting everyone yet and I know she had a yellow dog."
Orion is patting the water with his paw. Slapping the surface aware it drops off. I'm standing up to my knees.
"Well Barry look at that. She's just standing in there. Must be good shoes you got."
"Yeah I've been walking all up the stream so far."
Orion makes a leap and does a little mini dog paddle towards me.
"That's right. Come on. Swimmie swimmie," I'm calling, scooting backwards just like the mothers do in baby swim lessons. He loops once than tries to bounce out of the water making huge sloshing leaps. His tail flies left and right, arching water like a lazy sprinkler on a hot summer day.
"Good boy!" I'm praising.
"There you go!" the lady calls from the bench. "Hey Barry isn't there a spot further up we use to take Seth?" Barry cocks an eyebrow. "Would you like to go for a little walk? I'm pretty sure there's a water hole at the end of this path."
"Sure," I say sloshing out of the water.
"I'm Mary, and that's Barry and this is Cotton--but she doesn't like the water. She delicately places her feet in but won't swim."
Mary scoops up her dog and starts walking across the stream towards me, grey hair and all, not batting an eye at having water up to her ankles. "I've been meaning to replace these shoes anyways. Well Barry, I can just feel the leather stretching." I trail after her introducing Orion and myself and down the path we go.
"Barry is this the right place?"
"Well I don't know, it's all grown up."
"I think we're getting the parks mixed up."
"Could be."
"Well let's just climb down there Molly and see if we can find a deep spot." And before I know it I'm scrambling down the creek bed after her.
"I do this all the time with my grandkids," Mary's saying as we walk over loose rocks, heading towards an overpass. "My one grandkid he loves rocks so we're all the time in the creek looking for em'. My older one doesn't like it much that I do this, but that is just cause he's afraid I'll get hurt. But just think, I was just sitting out there now I'm walking down a creek with a stranger I met trying to find a water hole for her dog to learn to swim."
I'm acutely aware Mary's in flip flops, has a good forty years on me and might slip at any minute--I sympathize with the oldest grandkid but am equally impressed like the young one must be. We trudge along and end up under a bridge.
"What do you think? Should we go?" I ask.
"Looks like the pool on the other side."
In we go. Voices echoing off the cement walls. Orion looks up at me, grabs the leash and tries to pull me back to the other side. Mary's behind me making barking noises. He's not convinced this is a brilliant idea.
"Come on buddy," I say and we continue along.
Half way in Mary stops.
"What kind of water do you suppose this is?"
"Just the stream." I'm ahead of her, just about at the end.
"Well what if it's something else?"
"I'm here!" I wade in and the bottom drops out from under me rapidly causing me to flail slightly and pull my shorts up. Orion trails behind me, does three little doggy paddles then back to the ledge. Mary's still contemplating the water, so I too move back towards the ledge pleased to no end that Orion in fact will be a swimmer.
"You're probably right about the water," Mary says.
And Orion pulls us to the opposite side of the bridge.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wiggly Field Day 2

Night Time Rambles.

The room is dark. It's somewhere close to ten. My old glasses slip down my face, reminding me yet again that I need them resized as my "new" ones are out of commission with a four month old labrador scratch. I lift the cold Strongbow cider to my face and press the can against my warm cheek. The thermometer beeps 99.7 under my arm. I sigh. I have lost track of when I last took Tylenol and would rather not overdose and blow my liver. Maybe I'll just sleep it off.
My ribs and back muscles are finally complaining at the repetition of frequent coughs during the day. I lay flat, staring up at the ceiling where the owner before me stuck three randomly placed stars.
"It would have been cooler if she would have placed them in a line, like Orion's belt," I say to Orion who's head is resting on my chest.
I ricochet upwards responding to a cough, grabbing my ribs with one arm. Orion's head looks at me, concerned, or annoyed, I really can't be sure in the dark.
I settle back down.
"The cough syrup sucks. Plus it's gross. Who would ever want to get high off of something that gross?" I say recalling a story from a friend. He puts his head back down. It was suggested alcohol worked better than cough syrup. Whiskey specifically. I dug in my fridge but came up with Strongbow as really the only beverage I would drink with alcohol anyways.
"Have I told you lately that I am so glad you're in my world?" Orion likely hears this about three to four times a day. "It's true. Being sick by myself would suck. I like that you keep me company. And my mom wants you in day care tomorrow if I'm still sick. Huh. I would miss you."
I am a third of a way through the can.
"Are you burning up? It is so freaking hot in here. Let me open a window." I move my creaky, sore body towards the old window frames and throw some effort into moving them open an inch. I rotate to lay the opposite way across my bed.
"Much better."
"Orion, you ever wonder if I'll be dating someone again? Or like maybe when you and I will actually have our farm?"
Half the can is gone.
"If I had a farm now I'd get you a little black buddy. You could play like crazy and be the best of friends." I pause, can resting on my chest, "But I kind of like that just you and I get to bond you know?"
"You were pretty dirty today. I bet you just had the best time though. It makes me super happy to see you have such a good time. That's why you're a spoiled dog. I do what I can to let you have the best life ever. Did you know that?"
He shifts to have his back bump up against mine. I can tell he's taking each word so seriously.
"It's kind of silly drinking this beer in the dark with my glasses on you know."
He says nothing.
"I'm not even feeling tired yet."
Again, nothing.
"Are you still listening to me?" I pat his back.
"Probably someone would laugh if they saw us just hanging out here having life conversations, hacking my lungs up, blowing snot, drinking a Stongbow and talking to you as if you were my best ever drinking buddy."
I can hear his breathing.
"That's why you're my dog though."

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Orion goes tearing down the length of the basement soccer ball pinned between his four remaining needle teeth. I look up casually, pulling laundry from the washer. A second later Zachary goes flying past me.
"Woah. He is good!" Zachary calls, as he's jetting left then right, trying to distract Orion into giving up the ball. There's a thud, as Zachary bounces off the wooden storage units. Orion won that check.
I toss the jeans in the dryer. Underwear, underwear, underwear--the whole reason for doing laundry in the first place. Use to be Orion would crawl all over my laundry basket during this procedure, chewing the handle, messing up any folded laundry I had inside, but not tonight. Little David Beckum himself would've been proud. A ball goes soaring in the basement air.
"Good kick Zachary," I say.
"Oh that wasn't a kick, that was a knee."
I nod with astute seriousness. Orion on the other hand launches himself at the ball, jumping with the bounce, legs sprawled, and pins the ball before trotting off with it in his mouth.
I am beginning to chuckle over 9 year old boy and 4 month old puppy doing laps back and forth in the basement. Boy is sweating, dog is hopefully getting worn out too. They go running up the stairs and I hear Zachary calling Orion by his middle name and it just makes me chuckle.
"Ooooriiiiiion Timothy," he calls, stretching the vowels of Orion's name as he likely is swinging to snag the ball.
"So are we going to go out and play soccer?" Zachary asks as Orion is momentarily distracted by a pipe cover.
"It's like 9 PM!" I say, "We should be getting ready for bed."
"Tomorrow is Sunday," Zachary states matter-of-factly.
"Yes, and unlike you my dear friend, I have to go to work and will be up at 7."
"Seven's not so bad."
"Yes it is."
"No. I get up at that time all the time."
"Fine, we'll let him go pee then a few minutes of kicking not long though."
Compromise with a nine year old, but in all honesty, I was having a good time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dog Park

So we went to the dog park for the very first time. I'm thinking this is going to be an amazing way to wear Orion out. He loves dogs. He has endless energy. He can just run all over. We pull up, after looping around the giant park for a better part of a half hour trying to get to the dog park and see a sign for "Wiggly Field". I chuckle, park the car, unhook Orion from his safety harness and walk up to read the rules.

"Dogs on leash at all times unless in the park."
"Pick up after your dog with the provided bags."
"Owners must keep an eye on their dog at all times."
"Owners must have a leash on them."
"Dogs have to be four months or older."

I was waiting to read, "And no running on the pool deck." But alas, no such rule, so onwards we go, disappointed to see not a single dog in sight.

"Well Orion, I guess it's going to be just you and me," I say as I unhook his leash. Like a bullet he goes flying. My eyebrow shot up. I looked, there were no birds, no dogs, nothing to motivate such excitement but he was off, mud flying from his feet, happy as a happy dog could be.


I go trudging after him, and recognize this park has grass but it reminds me more of the sneaky grass that lures you in until it's too late to realize in fact you're not on grass but walking through a bog. Two seconds in my feet are sinking into the mud. Dog comes flying over to say hi. I smile, pat his head and he's off plowing through the mini stream. Once again my yellow dog looks distinctly more like a chocolate lab but I couldn't be more pleased to see him with his butt tucked running to beat the band.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


We are sitting in the puppy class. Orion is tearing around the room. We are going on an hour and a half. His best friend is a seven month old Louisiana Catta hula--a dog the trainer brings to help teach the pups proper behavior. Orion has jumped, chewed, thrown himself into this dog. They have tumbled around the pop up tunnel, chased balls, chased each other.

Beside me an English Mastiff named Atlas peacefully sleeps with his head in my lap. He is the same age as Orion. He is the same size as Orion. He has spent half the class in this position.

Orion goes whizzing by. He loops under the black umbrella propped open and is momentarily stuck, carting the umbrella with him at break neck speeds.

The owner of the mastiff looks at me.

"How do you do it? I've never seen a dog with that much energy."

The trainer chuckles, "Orion's a lab."

"Yep, and pretty much I live alone and my dog is my world. If I wanted a life, or had someone else in it, it maybe wouldn't work as well, but for now, I can get up hike him, play with him, and just love spending time with him."

Atlas lifts his head. Flops back down. Orion takes this moment to fly towards my lap.

Back to the sleeping Louisiana Catta hula.

I love my dog.


"Orion sit."
He sits.
"Good sit."
I pass him a treat.

"Orion speak." I wave my hands wide, an impromptu gesture since his sit looks an awfully lot like a talking mouth.
He looks confused.
He tilts his head back to look at me.
I feel something bounce off my leg.

I burst out laughing and pick up the piece of kibble that must not have made it all the way down.