Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Camp

"Hi, I'm dropping Orion off for Summer Camp. Oh, I'm sorry, that's what I've been calling it but he's here to do the day camp and sleep over till Sunday," I lean against the counter of Best Friends Pet Resort. Orion jumps up and puts his paws on the counter. The two Great Danes stand up and grumble. "Oh sit down," the woman behind the counter says. I'm looking around while they pull my records and see a picture of a labrador on the big screen, advertising camp. Huh. Looks just like Orion. Then I look at the tag, "Orion McLoughlin" Haha. It is my dog.
"Ha! That's cool!" I say gesturing to the image.
"I guess he's not still 40 lbs?"
"No, not even close. He was last here when he was about seven months old. He's more like 60-65 pounds now. He goes to the Meet Up groups here."
"Okay, and is he neutered?"
Orion's sniffing the floor. I'm trying not to feel sad that it's the first time I'm having him sleep somewhere else by himself.
"Go ahead and fill all this out, initial here for him not having food allergies, no medical needs...and then pick one of these to initial, either a. do whatever necessary to save your pet and you will assume responsibility for the expenses or b. Fix him up to, and then fill in the amount you don't want to exceed."
"Um, well, I'd kind of like to have someone call me if something happens where I'd have to make such a decision," I say, hand frozen above the sheet.
"Oh we will try a bunch of times, then we'll try your emergency contact."
I sign do whatever need be done.
"So then put down an emergency contact here."
I scroll through my contact list looking for my friend Pam's number. Pam and I have similar concepts about care for our pets, plus, she's almost always able to be reached. I write her number down. Then I write down her mobile. Then I write down my Aunt Nancy's because she has dogs that she adores too. Two emergency contacts.
I am still staring at the line.
"Hon, in all my years working here we've never had anything happen like that."
"Okay. Good. I don't want to be stressing about that all weekend."
"Just make sure you tell your emergency contact what you want and that they are your emergency contact."
"Okay," I say, and hand over his blanket, antler and dinosaur. Orion goes happily behind the lady to the play area.
"Do I pay now?"
"No, when you get him, that way we know you'll come back."
What a horrible idea! To leave your pet??!
I walk out, get in the car. Orion comes up to the fence and barks three times. My lip pops out in a pout. "Go play, you'll have fun and I will see you Sunday," I say. He barks once, then turns around and books it for the pool. I smile. So my dog. Then I grab my phone and call Pam.
"Pam, you're my emergency contact. Just remember, Orion's emergency fund is whatever I have in Apple Stock okay?"
We chat for a bit, and then I'm off packing for my first music festival.
Things will be fine.
And they'll send me pictures.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Owl calls

It is a little past eight and the sun has passed below the horizon. The light has not yet faded though so I am banking on enough time to complete the loop trail Orion and I have set upon. He is rearing to go, a long day in his crate broken up only by a morning walk (the dog that was involved in my arm breaking was out so we had to readjust our walk so not to be killed), a lunch break, a break before karate and then our walk with tiny, short-legged dogs. I'm feeling energized myself--muscles having been worked at karate, and my awesome new keen sandals on my feet. I take off at a run. Orion grabs the leash in his mouth and takes off at a sprint. I feel the uneven ground beneath my feet and I am laughing. It has been a while since I have cross countried myself, although, in those days it was more orchestrated, as I'm flying along, there is a distinct trace of panic in my head repeating, "You miss a step you're screwed. You're going too fast. If you miss a step you're screwed. You're going too fast."
I slow to a walk.
"Okay buddy, I can't maintain that pace."
Ahead the trees curl into a tunnel. Magical, I think. We approach and the ground is soft under our feet. Orion dodges one side than the other sniffing God only knows what. I pay attention to the sounds around me, the quiet, then the robin call. I wonder if ahead we will see a walker of dogs. I wonder about my friend Anne, who introduced me to this place and then moved to Virginia and how I doubt I'll ever see her again but wasn't it nice knowing her while I did. And I think of my own move, close on the horizon and the thought of those I know now, and if they too will fall in the "nice to know while I did" category or if I will have them in my life like the Diane Sands, and Kate Silver's of the west coast. We round the corner and head down the next trail.
Orion and I have some stern conversations. Me stern, Orion being stubbornly Irish. "You have got to stop pulling," I say, making him sit perfectly still. His head darts left and right. He is accommodating in the sense that he is technically doing what I said, sitting, not pulling, appearing to be responding to my lecture.
We sprint again, this time by a single woman on her phone, in running clothes, and I think about what it must be like walking alone in the woods and choosing to be on a phone. She misses the sounds. On our trail home it is those sounds I am so attuned too.
An owl calls out.
A soft smile crosses my face. I think of Owl Moon, of night walks when I was a kid--all 20 of us for our annual "Owl Walk". As if an owl would show up with a bunch of third graders hooting their heads off... and yet, Orion pauses mid stride, leash in mouth to listen. It calls again. I call back. If only I could see her. We are moving closer. A girl and a dog walking a path, hooting to an owl. I suppose if I came up behind this girl, I would smile, think how un-self-conscious she must be, how a little odd she be, and just maybe, I'd probably like her and wish there were more like her in Ohio.
We get closer. I call, she calls. I pause.
Orion calls.
I laugh.
We move on.
I don't think tonight will be the magic evening that I see an owl in the woods after all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


"Hold on!"I shout at the phone. "Let me roll up the windows and put you on speaker!" I shut off the radio, slide up the windows, hit speaker on the phone and position it face up in the crook of my shoulder.
"Hi Dad, how is it going?"
"We are good, Orion has been a little nuts lately," I say as I watch a little black nose sneak up and grab my bottle of vitamins. "YOU CAN'T HAVE MY VITAMINS!" I shout, reaching back to grab the bottle.
"yeah we'll, like usual he is trying to kill us while driving..."

And maybe I could have this?

I'm driving down the highway and this little nose sneaks forward, grabs the salads dressing in the front seat and starts to retract backwards.
"I don't think so Mr. Orion Timothy," I say, snatching it out of his mouth.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I sit on the front steps. It's seven am. Orion is attached to his cord and is tearing around the yard butt tucked. I shake my head. "You're insane," I say. We have been on a walk. No one else is awake. He has been like this for three days....reverted to some puppyhood that I'm not going to lie, I haven't missed. Now he is behind me, drooling on my shoulder.
"Hey. Leave me alone. I need some space from you right now and this is my breakfast. You already had yours." I pull his collar so that he has to move in front of me. I look up and stare at the basket of half chewed dead toys that I'm donating to the great beyond. I tried to make it clear that the chewed basket could go too by putting a trash bag on top. It's moving time and anything in excess has to go.
The neighbors dogs come by and it becomes bark fest. I am sure to move out of the line of his cord. No need for broken limbs or decapitations.
Next comes Herb, my old neighbor friend who walks his small dog daily. Herb stops tell me about his dog is going to deaf and how it must be old age. And I smile and agree, thinking of how he missed my earlier greeting for probably a similar reason.
As he moves on Ron, the late night shift, guy pulls in and his old dog prowls the yard for her pee break. Orion bounces around like Tigger before Ron takes pity on him and comes over to pat him. This routine has gone on since Orion was a puppy and is nothing new, though this time I watch Ron teeter as Orion leaps up to kiss his face and his balance wobbles.  "geez Orion, you tryin to knock me down the steps?"
"He's taken me out that way before so I wouldn't put it past him."
Ron moves on and Orion comes nicely up beside me and I pat his face. Behind me I her the other neighbor, looking to take his dog out for a pee break. "it's cool," I say, "we are just hanging out out here. give me a second to get him in and it's all yours."
And so we move inside and our quiet (but crazy) morning comes to a close as I get ready for work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Death warmed over.

"Orion, I feel like death and I'm freezing. I need you to just be good because I have to sleep," I say as I pull my third sweatshirt over my head. "If you wouldn't mind too much I could really use your heat though. Like, feel free to sit on me to look out the window."
I pull the winter blanket over my shoulders, slipping jeans under my skirt while under the blanket.
"I am so cold. If I could just warm up."
Orion climbs over the mound that is me and sticks his nose to the window, butt plopping down on my hip.
"Yeah. That will work," I mumble.
"Now if someone would just knock me out please," I whisper as I slowly drift off to sleep.

My dreams are crazed and erratic, likely compliments to the 102 temperature my body is burning through and two hours later I pick my eyelids up.

I groan.

I am soaking wet. Every possible pore in my body apparently opted to heat up while asleep. I roll over, and Orion climbs in the cove created between my curled body and the wall, and puts his head on my torso.

"Thanks buddy."
Sometimes it's just nice to know he can take care of me too.