Izzy’s Fear of the Car

Izzy’s terrified of cars.  As soon as he figures out we’re going somewhere (all I have to do is rattle the keys when I’m grabbing my pocketbook), he starts shivering.  If I take him out for a walk before I go somewhere, the tail goes between his legs and he shivers throughout the whole walk.  Whenever we go anywhere near the car (and we have to every time we go out the back door), he makes as wide a turn around it as possible.  It’s been like this since he came to live with me, but it’s getting worse.

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I’ve tried everything I can think of.  When I first started taking him in the car, he wanted to sit on the glove box with his head on my shoulder (while shivering), but I didn’t think that was very safe, so I hunted for a seat for him.  Found one that was supposed to be large enough for him, but it hung off the back of the passenger seat and he barely fit into it, so that didn’t work.  Shopped some more and finally found one that’s sheepskin lined and sits up high so he can look out the windows.  I left it in my house for a while to see whether he’d explore it, but the only thing he did was to grab the pillow from inside and play with it.  Not once did he want to lie in it.

That seat is safe.  The seatbelt buckles it in, and his leash is attached to a short restraint.  He fits in it nicely and sees everything, can even put his head out the window (though that terrifies him, too, thus I drive with the windows up).  But it doesn’t help his fear.  He still sits and shivers and pants.

I have made it a point to take Izzy on “fun rides.”  We go to my friends’ houses and Izzy gets to play like crazy in their fenced-in backyards with their dogs.  I’ve taken him for long hikes behind the college where I work.  No go.  He’s still terrified.  When it comes time to go home, I sometimes have to pick him up when I put the leash on him to get him into the car.  

I’ve asked my dog trainer what to do.  She had great suggestions for getting him into the car, but none for ridding his fear.  I did some research online to see if there was anything I could do, and the one thing I learned was that if the dog is shaking, he shouldn’t be forced into the car.  So, no rides for now.

I’m trying to desensitize him and have been walking around the car two or three times every time we go out.  I’ll start giving him treats when we’re near it so he’ll associate it with “good things.”  Over this coming weekend, I’ll wash the car and entice him to come near it, sit inside it with me without the car running.  All the while, getting treats.  I know this will be a long process, but I don’t know what else to do.

Anyone have any ideas?

Another One Bites the Dust . . . Puppy Mill Closes!

I love it when good wins out.  No animal should have to be part of a mill where the animals are only a dollar sign.  There are far too many loving dogs and cats in shelters, looking for their one and only homes, dying because there is no space.  We need to continue the fight to stop this.

 

http://cindylusmuse.blogspot.com/2014/04/puppy-parlor-in-lisle-il-closes-goodbye.html#.U0faA6hdUrc

Spring and April = Poetry Month and Happy Dogs

To celebrate April (which is Poetry Month) and our happiness (Izzy and mine) that we can go out without coats on, here’s a poem by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver.  Enjoy!

 

LUKE

I had a dog
  who loved flowers.
    Briskly she went
        through the fields,

yet paused
  for the honeysuckle
    or the rose,
        her dark head

and her wet nose
  touching
    the face
         of every one

with its petals
  of silk,
    with its fragrance
         rising

into the air
  where the bees,
    their bodies
        heavy with pollen,

hovered—
  and easily
     she adored
        every blossom,

not in the serious,
  careful way
    that we choose
        this blossom or that blossom—

the way we praise or don’t praise—
  the way we love
     or don’t love—
        but the way

we long to be—
  that happy
    in the heaven of earth—
        that wild, that loving.

Sochi Dogs — Redux

When the Olympics was in full swing, we dog lovers were worried about the homeless dogs that were threatened with death. They got a reprieve and were, instead, given “temporary housing.” Now, I’m happy to report that some of them have actually come to the United States to look for homes. So, those of you who doubted that might happen were wrong!

I’m really happy that Gus Kenworthy, the Olympic silver medalist who became that hero to negotiate the arrival of these 10 lovable pups and to get them adopted. Somehow that type of hero is more important to me than the Olympic kind!

Here’s the story:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/27/us/d-c-sochi-dogs-arrive/index.html?sr=sharebar_twitter

Dogfighting in North Carolina

This morning, I’m home sick from work (yes, another bout of bronchitis) and one of the first posts I see on Facebook is about dogfighting in North Carolina.  If I wasn’t sick already, I became physically ill at the sight of injured dogs and immediately signed the petition.  I hope you will, too.   (I’ll write about happier things when I’m feeling better.)

http://www.yousign.org/en/dog-fighting-nc

 

Sprained Human Ankle and Diggin’ Doggy Dirt

Sometimes being preoccupied with thoughts of work brings negative “schtuff” directly into your life.  On Thursday, I ran home to go to the last women’s basketball game of the season and hurried Izzy out for a quick walk.  I’ve walked up and down the driveway at my house a million times, but this time, I was so into the thoughts in my head that I paid no attention to where I was walking.  Right into a hole I went.  Left foot bent at an unnatural angle, and as if in slow motion, I went down–thinking only that I had to hold on to Izzy–smack, crack.  Right knee.  

And suddenly couldn’t get up.  Yup, the old commercial:  “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”  Only I was in the driveway.  It was 28 degrees, the wind was blowing, the sky was grey, and no one was around.  Izzy whined and sniffed around my legs.  I started shaking uncontrollably.  Whimpered a little.  Tried to move my legs, but they wouldn’t even wiggle.  Shit, I thought.  How was I going to get to the phone?  How many times had people told me to bring my cell phone with me when I went walking?  And, shit again.  I was going to miss the game.

Ten minutes later, I dragged myself to a standing position though the pain shot through my left ankle and my right knee.  I was close enough to the car to grab the bumper and used the car as stability to get back to the house.  Once inside, I called next door, but no one was home.  Called a friend at work, but he didn’t answer.  I desperately needed someone to take me to Urgent Care.  Finally, called my friend Peggy and within moments, she was at the house.  I left a message for my next door neighbors to please walk Izzy.

Two hours later, x-rays showed a sprained ankle and a badly bruised knee, but no breaks.  Thankfully.  Peggy took me to CVS to get some pain meds and Ibuprofen, then home.  My friend from work brought over a pizza and helped that night, and my neighbors/friends, Deb and Danny, have been walking Izzy and helping me ever since.  I don’t know what I’d do without my friends!

What Izzy can’t get used to is that we haven’t been taking our walks anymore.  He’s been going with Deb in the mornings, but before Deb comes over, I put Izzy on a leash/rope into the back yard.  He sits at the back door and peeks in through the window.  Doesn’t move.  Until this morning.

Deb called in the back door when she came to pick him up.  “Yoo hoo!  Your pup is having a good ol’ time out here.”

I hobbled into the kitchen and saw her holding Izzy tight on his leash at the back door.  “What’s he doing?”

“Digging!  He’s got a good sized hole started out back.”  She pointed to his tell-tale mud-covered paws.  “He needs to be wiped off before he comes in.”

I found a towel, we wiped him off, chatted a minute, and she took him for a walk.

While they were gone, I started catching up on some writing I haven’t been able to do.  All I’ve done for the past three days is watch TV.  Izzy has been good at keeping me warm and giving me love, acting like the Nurse Dog he is.  But I’m sure that’s boring for him.  He needs to walk.

Hopefully, the ankle will be strong enough to move around a bit more today.  My knee is a lot better, though still a little sore and I won’t be able to kneel on it for a while.  I have to get better so I can go for walks with Izzy again — or I’m going to end up having more holes in my back yard than in the driveway!

In the meantime, he’s holding down the bed for me . . . .

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Other People’s Blogs: Planet of the Blind

Because I’ve been a writer for more than 9/10 of my life (I could probably say 100%, but there was that one or two weeks when I couldn’t speak or write a sentence . . . ), I have a lot of friends who are also writers.  I support them as much as I possibly can by buying their books, talking about their work to other friends who read, and having coffee (wine) with them to talk about the business.  We share joys and triumphs and we try to ignore those moments when all seems unusually dark.  We are writers.  We are used to rejection and suspicious of those moments that feel off-the-charts happy.  No matter what the emotions, we’ll write about them.

Today, I spent the day working on a schedule for a friend’s poetry readings at my College.  While I was putting together the pieces, another friend was writing about her one-eyed dog’s death on Facebook.  That heartbreaking news (the dog was truly a super hero) reminded me that my poet friend wrote an occasional blog for a blog called “Planet of the Blind.”  The writer who hosts that blog, Stephen Kuusisto, has a remarkable connection to the one-eyed dog.  You see, Stephen is blind, and his best friend is his dog.  He writes about that dog, a gorgeous yellow retriever who acts as his seeing-eye dog, his partner in life.  And his latest blog is particularly beautiful.

So, here, in honor of Andrea Scarpino, the poet who has written ‘Once, Then’ and will be at my College on April 15 and 16, and for Sarah Louise’s Mia, is the beautiful “Planet of the Blind.”

http://www.stephenkuusisto.com/blog

So I’m a Baby Boomer Woman and I have a Dog. That doesn’t make me a crazy old lady.

Lately, I’ve been doing some thinking about dating at this age, and I’ve come to a conclusion:  I have more fun with my dog and my grandson.

For years, other single friends of mine have basically told me that they have “rich, full lives without men.”  I never believed them.  I thought how could they not miss having someone to eat dinner with?  How could they live without sleeping with a man?  How lonely must they be traveling without someone to share the scenery, someone to grab a suitcase when they’re tired, someone to do half the driving?  But every time I came up with one of those questions, the answer would be:  I don’t miss having to cook what someone else wants.  I don’t miss someone snoring and farting in bed.  I have plenty of friends who are fun to travel with and share half the driving.  And, inevitably, the friends also had companions of the four-legged variety.

My friend Jenna travels all over the country in a small mobile home accompanied by her dog, Sandy, and a cat, Mittens, both of which she adopted sometime during the last ten years.  Sandy isn’t her first dog and probably won’t be her last.  Mittens isn’t the first cat either, but she might be the last since dogs travel better than cats in mini-mobile-homes.  Jenna has been single for all of the years I’ve known her (we met back in the  mid-1980s when we were at a writer’s conference).  Only once during that 30+ year span has she had a relationship.  It lasted less than a year, and she practically threw a party when it was over.  I could hear her relieved sigh all the way in Florida, where I was living.  She was in Maine.

Greta moved from Massachusetts to Florida when her long-term relationship disintegrated because the guy she had been living with for 23 years was arrested for pedophilia.  Good reason to say goodbye and good riddance.  I thought she’d find another, better, man at one point, but she has always insisted she’s been quite happy with her two cats (sometimes one) who are quite independent and reflect her persona.  She travels with friends, works from home, visits her grandchildren in Seattle, London, Boston, and has come to the point of being happier at home in her seacoast town than she has ever been elsewhere.  Her question to me has always been:  why do you need a man?  I always insist that I haven’t “needed” one, I just liked having one around, especially one I loved.

Julie pens children’s books and teaches at a liberal arts college.  She lost her husband, the man with whom she was truly in love, several years ago.  Her dog, a rangy and adorable mutt, has kept her company and staved off an unbearable loneliness.  I think that, in many ways, that dog saved her from dying of a broken heart, much the same way my Izzy did with me.  She dates on occasion, but the last time I saw her, she said that she would be fine if she spent the rest of her life walking her dog, visiting with friends, traveling to see her daughter, and being happy that she had the time she did with her precious husband.

The women in my family who lost their husbands always ended up spending the rest of their lives alone.  Some of them had animals, others did not, and I think that the reason why most did not is because the majority of them lived in apartments (which might not have permitted pets).  Those who had animals were happier, I think.  And that supports the research that’s been done on older single people who live with pets — they have less heart attacks, less stress, and get more exercise than their counterparts who simply live alone.  I suspect they are also warmer during storms like the ones we’ve had during this (not-over-yet) winter.  Nothing better than having a cat or dog cuddle up with you on the couch or in bed when no amount of quilts seems to be enough to keep you warm.

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Perhaps I’ll be like this woman in the picture who probably talks to the dog and cat who have been her companions for most of her life.  It could be worse.  At least she’s smiling!  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to have the contentment I have with my silly little dog (and my grandson and my friends and my writing) than to have knots in my stomach  because I’m wondering what the man who lives with me will find to critique at dinner tonight.  I’m not crazy.  And I’m not alone.  I’m a dog lover who happens to be over 40 :0)