Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chocolate Dog

It's seven am. Orion's whining in my face. I'm debating acknowledging it or hoping he'll sleep longer.
"Orion? Really?"
He whines more.
"Okay come up here."
I toss the blanket over my head and wiggle around. He pounces trying to eat my arms that are now nicely padded under the blanket. I whip my arms out and grab him in a hug. Kiss his whiskers. Rub his head, roll him to rub his tummy.
This is our usual routine. I liken it to the sleep button. A stall tactic to actually getting up. I roll myself, and bump into something hard.
"A trash can Orion?" It's true. There is a small bathroom barrel trash can beside me.
"Bored last night?" He dives for my un-protected hand. I roll out of bed.
I look at him.
"French park or Oliver?" He wiggles his tail at his friend's name.
"Good choice, I could use some Dunkin's." Oliver, the nine month old brown labrador resided north of us and was always at the dog park and up for a good run, mouth wrestle or tumble at the early hours. We met Oliver, and Jack--the older stray dog that was adopted by the Booths, in the spring as we were the three idiots standing in the mud puddles and rain letting the dogs tare around the dog park. It just so happens there's a Dunkin Dounuts right off the exit if we opt to go to that park. Not that I notice.
Orion does his business outside, I tackle the shower, hollering out at Orion as I hear chaos in the kitchen, and then we're loaded up cruising along the highway north.
"You know, for waking me up at 7 you have a pretty nice life." I say, noticing his head plunked down on my middle console, his eyes closed. "Humph. Wish I could have someone drive me around so I could sleep."
No response.
I pat his head.
"You're cute when you're sleepy."
We pull up to the Dunkin's drive thru. I turn to Orion who is now fully alert, sitting up in the passenger side. "What are you having today?"
"Welcome to Dunkin Dounuts, how may we help you?" The speaker rattles off.
"Hi, I'd like a small coffee cream and sugar and the plainest munchkin you think a 8 month old labrador retriever might like. "
"Well I don't know what an 8 month old labrador would like, but we have the plain glazed donuts?"
We pull around and Orion happily gobbles up his munchkin. I nuzzle my warm coffee. "Thanks!" And we're off.
It's 8 now. Late enough to call the Booth's and have them meet us.
"Bob Oliver Dog." I mutter as I scroll through my contacts, past Abby Dog Park, Monica Apple, Katie dog Park. I have a very accurate contact list. "Bob?"
Bob is one of those men who likes to act like a crotchitie old guy even though he's pretty entertaining and is very nice to his dogs. "Bob, this is Molly."
I hear the phone fumble. I stare at my phone. I hear him saying, "I can't hear anything, here, you talk." The phone is passed to Rosemary.
"We're headed over to the dog park. You wanna meet us there?"
"Oh sure, when are you going?"
"Like now."
"Oh sure, we'll be there."
I hang up the phone chuckling. They aren't that old, but you'd think I was talking to my grandparents. "Jack I can't hear, I need the battery turned up!"
We make it to the park and Orion sprints around hopeful to find a dog hidden in the trees. Then he tears around just because he can and we see the Booth's car pull up.
"Who's that Orion?"
His ears perk up. The gate opens, a brown dog comes flying through the gate. Orion bolts after him.
"Go get him Oliver! Squish Orion like a bug!" Rosemary loops in, empty leashes dangling from her shoulder. Bob, lumbers in, water bowl and jug in hand, Jack tagging along with him.
"Here. I brought you something so you won't starve." Bob passes me a folded paper. I unfold it, my face lighting up. "AWESOME! Dunkin's coupons!"
The dogs come crashing into my knees.
"Up, guess you're home base today," Rosemary exclaims, and we all shift to have our backs against the fence. The dogs are tearing around the park. Two hours later, huffing and puffing they return to us, wedging themselves under the bench, the one place the now mid morning sun can't reach. Dirt flies up underneath their bellies.
I laugh.
"What a picture!"
"Orion just wants to look like Oliver."
It's true; his butt was half covered in dirt. A snicker doodle.
"Well that's what best friends do."

Monday, August 29, 2011


Lately I have been enjoying Orion's company more and more. It is not as if I didn't enjoy him before, but his needs were very different as a one/two/three...six month old. We have been waking up nicely, a sandpaper kiss or light whining and then adventuring out into the cool morning air. Perhaps that is part of it as well. Now that we are nearing the end of August the heat is not atrocious and I don't mind walking around with him. Matter of fact I enjoy it. Coming home on the lunch breaks I look forward to his semi sleepy self crawling out of his crate with a bit stretch and an attempt at eating my arm (when really it's his greeting of hello Mum, I want to snuggle and get tummy tickles) and then just hanging out in the yard. Today we had a lovely walk just he and I, around Sharon Woods. We dilly dallied, pausing to sniff things (okay he sniffed, I just paused). Greet people. Say hi to dogs. Sit on the bench--best picture ever, the two of us, me sitting, him sitting on a park bench side by side. Chase ducks, dip in for a swim. Just lovely. I told him so, "Orion, thanks for spending the morning with me." He truly makes me just happy. We sat out at the mechanics, Orion chewing a stick, me enjoying the outdoors, butt on a parking bump. People honked and waved. I smiled and waved back. It's a good thing having a dog.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pam & Webbie

Orion circles the yard. He barks his high pitched bark. Webster, his best friend Boxer pal is puzzled as to what he seems to be missing in regards to importance on the pool deck.
Orion circles, pops his head over the gate. Barks his high pitched bark.
I sigh.
I have driven up to Columbus, there's a 58 pound, energetic and thrilled to play Boxer at his nose's length, and he's grumping because I'm in the swimming pool.
"Orion you have your own pool," I say as I bob in the water. And it's true, there's a baby pool for the dogs in the yard. Orion's already been in and out of it a dozen times. Web considers it more like a glorified water bowl.
I look at Pam. "Any suggestions? I was told Labs don't bark."
She laughs, "Who told you that??"
I float some more, trying to ignore my labrador sticking his head up between the fence posts.
Maybe he'll quit?
I know better, but I'm feeling slightly hopeful in lieu of Webster providing potential distraction. Webster so far is just following quietly along wondering what all the fuss is about.
"Web go distract him!" I plead.
No chance.
Web just looks at me, then Orion, then back at me. Both our eyes shift rapidly to Orion, as a crash occurs and Orion flies over the gate. Instantly, my legs drop to the pool bottom and I circle to where Orion is now barking on the edge of the pool. Webster trots casually behind Orion.
"No buddy, you have your own pool. This is for the big humans," I say this with a hand in his chest as he is twitching to enter the pool. "You have to settle down or Pam's never going to invite us up to swim and play again."
No chance.
Bark. Bark.
I turn to Pam to ask her thoughts, and Orion leaps into the pool face first.
I roll my eyes.
Somehow I'm not surprised.
I go fish his head up from underwater and he starts sputtering, then swimming around.
"Are you okay with this Pam?" I ask, as I hold my fifty-five pound lab for the okay to let him do some loops.
"Yeah just as long as you help him in and out of the pool."
I let Orion go, and he happily swims in circles in the center, following me, following an imaginary current. Very focused. Dog paddle superb. He starts to try to catch up to me so I scoop him up to give him a rest. After a few breaths he starts to try and chew on me, so I release him.
Swim, swim, swim.
This is one happy dog.
I deposit him on the pool deck. He shakes. He trots about. Chases Web around the deck.
"Hey boys!"
"Hey guys!"
Our voices echo over top of one another.
The dogs round the corner and take off for the yard.
"Yes!" I exclaim. "Maybe all he needed was a one time dip to know he could reach me."
"I'm impressed with how quick you could move across the pool. Must be your water polo."
"Or the ten years of swimming before that.." and then I'm off extolling the stories of large women water polo players, and speed, ect. ect.
Orion comes flying back up the pool deck.

(will continue, but falling asleep.)


"Orion! Come on! Get it!" I shout as I watch a cockroach run across the living room floor. Orion's not sure what he's looking for and is searching without locking on to anything. Too slow, I think. I'm barefoot. I really don't want to have to step on it barefoot.
I grab the coffee table.
"ORION!" the cockroach dashes near Orion. He snags it.
We move his crate and one drops from his water bottle.
"GET IT!!!"
I grab the coffee table again.
"HA! Two down!"
I satisfactorily pat Orion's head.
"I think we make a good team Orion."
He's busy licking his lips.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I'm at home alone after dropping Orion at day care for the day so he does not have to tolerate my at-my-desk long day, and yet, I walk by his dog bowl and think how I miss his persistent company. It is funny how quickly I've become use to my tag-a-long friend. I know he is having a delightful time at Doggie Day Care, and yet, typically I drop him off only on work--traditional work-- days so this is the first time, aside from my "diagnosed with Scabies and contagious" day, that I note the absence in the household. Last yesterday was such a fun day hanging out with just the two of us, then me chasing him around the house with my paint easile to try to paint an oil painting of the little pup. Here are some of the older sketches and the half complete oil. I'm going to cheat and go get him early. He should be tired enough by now.
Okay well I have to email myself the oil... it'll be up later.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


It is the first of my four stay cation days. I wake to the usual whine of Orion, suggesting the sun is up therefore, we too ought to be up. I find my face drooling into a bare mattress, socks on from the night before as is the shirt and wind pants. We got in late from doing laundry and I didn't have the energy to wrestle the sheets on the bed, or change into pi's before climbing in myself. As I do each morning, I fish the cell phone from between the wall and the bed, squinting at the bright light reading 6:45.
"Orion, here I was thinking you might let us sleep in on our stay cation. Maybe the midnight bed hour would have you snoozing until 9?"
He whines some more. I reach my hand down fishing for my glasses. Internally, I groan, but count to three, throw the glasses on and toss my legs to the floor. "Okay I'm up."
Orion does some hops, toes tapping the wooden floor. I hobble to the room divider, slide it aside, slip my feet into my awaiting Keen's and out the door we go for the morning bathroom routine.
The air outside is cool. It feels so wonderful to not go out and get blasted with a furnace.
"Are you excited to go on our stay cation?" I ask, as Orion takes an astute interest in another creature's scat.
"We'll pack up then take off. Spend the afternoon."
Inside, I get to work, lather myself with sunscreen, collect the tablecloth that will serve as my beach blanket, bones, treats, more sunscreen. Orion is quiet until I hear the usual sound of feet returning to the ground in the kitchen.
"ORION, what do you have???" I holler down the hallway.
He comes trotting past the bathroom door back to the bedroom. I peer around the bathroom to see the "dog peanut butter" jar in his mouth. He freezes, jar cock-eyed out of one side.
"So do you think I won't notice?" I ask, walking towards him.
I take the jar from him and peek inside. 90% empty. I screw the lid back on and hand it to him. Totally worth the peace while I"m getting ready.
"If you can get inside, it's all yours."
Before long, Orion and I are on the road, listening to the GPS prompt us along to East Fork Lake. Oddly enough it's routing us north when every other time my friend drove us we definitely went south.
"Hopefully we don't miss the Dunkin Donuts," I tell Orion, who has resumed nap position beside me, foot wedged into my leg.
I pat his head.
"I love you dog."
No movement.
I drive on.
After an hour and a half of finding ourselves at the incorrect entrance, speaking to a fisherman and his son for correct directions we finally arrive at the beach. Orion's high pitch barking to beat the band.
"Would you relax! I'm getting us ready." I'm gathering up all the odds and ends at my feet that are needed for our adventure day, busy bones, jug of water, book so on and so on.
I open his back door and he flies out ready to take on the world. Sadly he's stopped short by the leash that happens to keep him from being a jungle dog.
"You're so lucky Petsmart was closed or you'd have a pinch collar to take care of your crazy pulling Orion Timothy."
I juggle him, the trunk, gathering the backpack of supplies and the gallon junk of water, and we begin working our way to the beach. It's gorgeous out. The sun has called the temperature up to the eighties, and the once rocky beach is now covered with a gentle layer of grass. We plod down, finding a spot close to the water, and I spread out the table cloth, using the gallon jug to pin it down. It rests on the medium height grass like a hovercraft so I toss the backpack in the center, then wander with Orion into the water to cool off.
Like last time, the lake water is a perfect comfortable temperature. I have been longing for New England something fierce lately and playing in the natural bodies of water brings me back closer than the purified pool water. With water up to my calfs, I stare across the lake at the hillside covered in trees, listen to the buzz of the far off boat engine and think this is what vacation should be. Wouldn't it be nice if I could wake up and this be my life?
Orion prances about in the water, sticking his head in to fish for rocks. I grab a small stick and toss it out in the lake, he leaps after it.
"Okay, let's head back so I can take off my shorts, set up then we can swim some more," I say, and he dutifully trails after me, shaking his body free of the water along the way.
We spend the day this way, he and I, looping into the water, and up to our table cloth, to rest ourselves in the sun. After an hour or so we shift over to a shady spot and things are just perfect being outside like this. It is nice even to spend the time alone of all other humans, as the chatter from the beach beside us ebbs and flows as people come and go. I snooze, leash looped around my ankle, and Orion pokes about in the grass. At one point he drags a giant half eaten catfish from the bushes and I have to shake it free, tell him that's gross, and drag him back to the table cloth with promises of a yummy clean bone instead. We chase sticks, me swimming alongside him, we prowl through pathways in the woods, take more naps, and then finally pile back into the car for the drive home (and a quick stop to Dunkins) where we drag our sun soaked selves inside for yet another mid day snooze and start to our stay cation

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Flop in the night.

It's ten in the evening. I'm wide awake. Orion's wide awake. We decide to go pester Zachary, my nine-year-old neighbor.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Zachary told me if I ever want him to knock three times and he'll know it's me. I fail to notice how my regular pattern of knocking on anyone's door extends beyond three knocks, but just go with it.
Delmy answers, with a joyful "OOH! Oh Ry anne." Delmy does not speak much English and seems to perhaps have never had a dog in her life, but I can tell she's amused by Orion and sort of likes his enthusiastic kisses and attention that he applies to her. Zachary on the other hand, pokes around her back, lego's in hand and Orion clobbers all over him.
"No! Down!"
Orion gets off him.
"Hey, I was wondering if Zachary could go for a walk with us?"
The exchange occurs in Spanish then Zachary tells me, "Oh yeah, I was just changing arms, let me go put them down and I'll be ready. I already went on a long walk with my mom this morning to the store. She is tired."
I tease Delmy about building muscles, then tell her to holler at Zachary to meet me up front.
Disappearing into my apartment, I grab a bag, find my keys and loop out front to meet Zachary.
We're walking along, the sidewalks empty in the night sky. Street lamps toss a flat color in patches along one side of the sidewalk and Zachary's blinking his pocket flashlight while fiddling with his Lego men in his hands.
"So I was thinking maybe you might like to walk him," I say, aware that Zachary is now getting shorter, while Orion is getting taller. This fact has not escaped Zachary either as I see him turn his body away slightly at the fifty-five pound lab bounding to meet him.
"I don't want you to be scared of him as he keeps getting bigger."
"Oh I'm not scared of him."
"Well okay but just if you ever are we can work on things. He has to learn not to jump anyways. Maybe you can help me train him with that."
We're chatting away, talking about maybe Zachary coming over for the day when all of a sudden something jumps in the grass and Orion dives. My arm about gets ripped off and I see a flutter of what I'm quickly realizing are wings.
I wrap the leash rapidly trying to get ahold of Orion's face. Bird feathers are wiggling in his mouth. Oh gross. Gross. Gross. I begin to pry his mouth open hoping that it's true that labrador's gently hold their prey.
"Gross gross gross!"
Zachary, behind me has the other half of the leash and is laughing at me gagging.
"Oh this is so disgusting. Oh gross."
I shake the bird out and drag him up the sidewalk. About fifty paces away I'm still grossed out.
"You should've let me do that. I see blood all the time," Zachary says. "Bird blood wouldn't gross me out. I could've done it."
Fifty-five pound lab mouth prying to a eighty pound nine year old boy's hands....
"Will you go back and see if the bird is alive with your flashlight?"
"Oh sure."
Off Zachary trots. His little light is tracing over the grass.
"I don't see it."
"Well that's good. Maybe he just stunned it."
"Yeah. Maybe."
"Let's go home. That was so gross."
Zachary laughs and resumes control of Orion.

Steroids not raging.

"Orion, if I keep these steroids up and stay being down in the dumps, you're going to get fat."
I'm sitting on the couch in my bedroom eating my sandwich, one bite for me, one bite for my cute dog who keeps giving me kisses.
"I have twelve days left."
He licks my face.
I pull off a piece of crust.
"I hate feeling down in the dumps." Take a bite. Hand him a piece. "You'd think I had my fill during the Dark Ages. Good thing I know this is just medically induced."
Licks face.
"We have to remember to eat too."
Take a bite, give him a bite.
"I tend to get unmotivated. We should make a list of everything I know to do when I'm down in the dumps and tape it to the fridge."
"You want this last bite of ham?"
He does. Shocker.
"I like seeing you happy. So just remind me every day to take you to the dog park. That'll fill time, keep me busy, I'll see you happy, then indirectly get distracted from feeling like crying, and hopefully you'll be all tired and snuggly, so benefit from you being my dog too when I'm down in the dumps."
He licks my face.
"I'm all out of food you know."
Licks my face.
"See? That's why you're my best friend dog. I'm so smart getting you."
Crawls on my lap.
"Orion, I may have wanted that ovary. You have the freaking pokiest elbows."
I adjust.
"Well, thanks for keeping me upbeat on my lunch break. Let's go make coffee and see if that can help for the rest of the day. How many days of this do I have left?" I roll off the couch.
"12. Right. Thanks buddy." We walk down the hall.
"You want some peanut butter?"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Night time conversations.

"Orion, I feel unmotivated. What happened to my energy for pursuing my dreams? All I want to do is snag an extra twenty minutes of sleep."
We walk in the night sidewalks, the sliver of a moon shining down.
He snatches a cup from the ground and trots along with in his mouth.
"Well I guess you're right. I am on a ton of steroids, have had scabies for a month and am having an allergic reaction, on drugs for that, and the cough. So I haven't been feeling my best this month. I guess I can ease up on myself."

Sparrow Energy

I wake to my alarm ringing at 6:32 AM. This may be the first morning I did not have a whine or bark, or lick to the face to wake me up between 5:30 and 6:10. Almost like clock-work Orion can land a 6:10 wake up and expect the world to be up and operating right along side him. I hit sleep and roll over, I am not ready to get up. My friend came over at midnight, when his shift got off, to kindly apply the last of my scabies treatment to my back, but I tried to stay up to meet him and therein got six hours tops sleep. Sigh.
I remember I'm going to meet another friend at Sharon Woods for a walk.
"Okay I'm up," I grumble, reaching my arm down between the mattress and wall for my glasses case. I put them on, pull the hair tie from my droopy pony tail and flip my legs over the side of the bed. I look at Orion.
"Orion. I'm getting too old for this."
He slides off the bed, back legs lingering and trots to the gate indicating, "Ready to go out and doing my morning pee Ma."
Out we go, he does his thing, me stumbling behind the ten foot leash. There is evidence of rain on the ground which reminds me of waking briefly to thunder. I flop to the sidewalk while he chews on a long stick newly fallen from the tree.
Suddenly I realize I have only 30 minutes to bathe (get off the scabies cream) eat breakfast (and take my gazillion meds that require an intake of food first) and get out the door. My energy level elevates enough to get us back in the apartment.
Shower, breakfast, pills, dunkin donuts gift card in hand, we're out the door.
In the car, my phone buzzes. A text comes through from my friend, "There are storms coming, still wanna go?" We decide to reschedule, but Orion and I cruise to the dog park hoping to snag a few minutes of running around. I suspect no dog in his right mind, nor dog owner will be up at seven at the park, and I am not mistaken.
The big field is empty, but Orion is just as happy to have a big back yard as I am to not have to have him scoot me a long on a leash, rather move slowly and let him chart his own course.
It is during this time the sky is greying. i am beginning to think he will not get enough energy out, but then the swallows come in. Apparently we walked a touch too close to their nest and four swallows came flying down, brushing their wings on the grass.
Off goes Orion tearing after them like a bat outta hell. I stand watching with a big smile on my face. He goes after one, then shifts to chase another, and these sparrows are having fun with him, close to the ground, quick shifts in the air. The little seven month old dog has the ears flopping, short legs flying out behind him, and his little hot-persuit bark echoing against the thunder. They keep it up for twenty minutes and I decide it's time to rest and return to the car as the midwest sky warns me the storm is not too far behind.