walking

Izzy’s Big Move

On the third of July, Izzy reluctantly climbed into the car with me, and we waved goodbye to Roxboro and to our friends, to the streets we walked in the early hours of the morning, to the job I had for eight and a half years, to my little bungalow and the gardens that bloomed better last week than they have all summer long.  Goodbye for now to Deb and Danny (though I expect them down for dinner soon!) and to Mr. Mendoza across the street (I couldn’t even say goodbye to him before he left for his annual trip to Mexico) and to Ellie and Peggy around the corner.  Izzy will particularly miss Ellie, his best dog friend.

It was a day of mixed emotions for both of us.  Izzy spent most  of the day in the backyard as the guys moved the furniture out of the house.  He barked and ran from one side of the house to the other, straining to see what those strange men were doing in his house, very worried that I was in that house with those strange men without his stalwart protection.

The first night at the new place, Izzy jumped at every noise and when we did our evening walk, he couldn’t figure out which blade of grass to pee on first.  He bristled with senses so heightened that they were almost too much for his brain to handle.  I have to admit my own senses were on tilt, too, and when we crawled into the bed in the new bedroom that night, we both sank into a sleep both deep and confused.

We rose at 5:30 for our longest walk of the day to explore the neighborhood.  New bushes.  The smell of other dogs.  Streets we hadn’t walked before.

20150703_061957

Though I had driven the neighborhood many times before moving in, we hadn’t walked the streets, so it was time to learn the neighborhood.  This new place is nice, well-kept, and the neighbors seem to watch out for each other, but I’m amazed that I’ve moved to a place where each house resembles the one next door.  I’ve always said that I want a house with character.  Well, this one only has character because of the “things” I brought with me.  Without the “things,” this townhome would look the same as everyone else’s.  Unless you look closely, this neighborhood is fairly bland.

20150703_062011

As we did in Roxboro, we sniff out the possibilities and explore the hidden corners, and on that first walk, we found a little gift:  a walking trail in a cool copse of trees.

20150703_062206

There are dogs to meet here, and people, too, and roads to discover, trees to sniff, and adventures to enjoy.  But, for now, we’re tired from unpacking and would love some serious downtime before getting back into the work of being our own boss!

20150705_091850

For now, Izzy says he’ll hold the bed down 🙂

Advertisements

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 . . . .

483341_10151115004415908_1980413192_n

Dog Brains

When I was younger, I took a women’s literature course and one of the writers the young professor introduced us to was a revolutionary woman named Rigoberta Menchu.  Physically, she presented nothing of a threat:  plump, ordinary-looking, no scowl on her round face.  But mentally and dynamically, she’s a powerhouse for the indigenous population of Guatemala.  I remember reading her work and appreciating the guts it took for her to speak truth to power and righteously defend her people.  She not only defended people; she defended animals and nature  . . . basically, she defends the rights of all living beings.

She said, “There is not one world for man and one for animals; they are part of the same one and lead parallel lives.”  That statement is so simple but incredibly powerful.  And true.  One thing you can count on with Menchu is that she tells the truth.

This morning, I was thinking of that statement when I walked Izzy before the sun rose.  We saw several of his dog friends while walking.  One’s a female boxer whose submissive and sweet personality reminds me of Menchu herself.  Boxers are strong, muscular dogs, yet Peaches defies the stereotype.  Instead, she is friendly and wiggly, like you would expect Izzy to be.  Both of them are the exact opposite of what you would expect, as is Menchu.

We inhabit a neighborhood where possums live next door to foxes, bluebirds share the sky with buzzards, tiny yappy dogs (like the Chihuahua down the street) walk the same streets as burly pitbulls.  Black Methodists sing in a church a block away from White Baptists.  Single women who have grown up in North Carolina and spent their lives surrounded by family are friends with others who grew up in New England and have no family nearby.  Doctors shake the hands of field workers.  Though there are times when our paths do not cross — and other times when they collide — we all are part of the same world, and as Menchu states, we lead parallel lives.

As I pondered that thought, Izzy did his morning routine:  sniffing under the old white Cadillac for the tortoiseshell cat that hides there, peering into the sky when the rook of buzzards lifted off the roof of Mr. Mendoza’s house, lapping the pool of rain water that has collected in the dip in the sidewalk.  Occasionally, he’ll glance up at me, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, and I laugh at him.  He may not speak human words, but the language he has says one important thing:  I’m here for you.  I’m part of your world.

Image

Pitbull

Izzy spends the weekend days and nights at my screen door, looking out on the street and letting me know if anyone comes too close to the house 🙂  He’s a guard dog as long as he’s behind the door, but if he’s out on the street, he just wants to meet all the new dogs in the neighborhood and greet those he already knows.

I spent Saturday writing, so I was in my office and looking out on the same street Izzy sees from his door.  It’s early Fall and the day glowed with that special light autumn days embody.  We made excuses for more walks than our usual, mostly because I needed to stretch after sitting in my office chair for so long — and Izzy had to see the people and “other beings” who had walked by the house during the day.  The last week at 10 PM presented the gift of a star-filled sky, high-flying planes that competed with the brightest stars, and a glimpse of what I think was Venus near the half moon.  I breathed deeply, sure that all was right within my world and comforted by the thought that there is so much more than what exists within the perimeters of Roxboro.

Image

Izzy took his seat again on Sunday afternoon as I did my laundry and ironing.  The weather, as gorgeous as Saturday’s, enticed more people to take a walk, and I really didn’t pay much attention to what was going on unless Izzy growled or did his squirrel dance (on his back two legs) in front of the door . . . until I heard a tinkle-clink-clank-tinkle-clink like a broken ice cream truck going by.  Izzy came to where I stood at the ironing board, dancing and whining, then went back to the door as if trying to tell me something.  Curious, I followed him and heard the sound but didn’t see anything.  Still, he wouldn’t calm down.

A couple of minutes later, he still hadn’t calmed down and kept going to the back door, then coming to the dining room like he does when he wants to tell me to take him out.  Though we had gone for a walk only half an hour before, I gave in and put him on the leash.  He scrambled through my gravel driveway, choking on his collar and trying to get me to walk faster.  I could tell he had picked up the scent of something and thought it was the groundhog we have in the backyard (that has pretty much destroyed my garden).

On the way down the street, Izzy was at “high alert” but I still didn’t see anything.  Then a van coming toward us slowed down and stopped in front of us.  The window rolled down and a heavyset, older woman in a flowered dress leaned out.  “You might not want to walk up that way,” she said, motioning toward Izzy.  “There’s a brown pitbull wandering around up there.  He’s dragging a 6-8′ chain, so I think he got loose from someone’s yard.  He’s kinda big.  Your pup wouldn’t stand a chance.”

I thanked her and wondered whether it was the same one that my friend, the old man, was having trouble containing when Izzy and I walked earlier this week.  Then I realized he never had a chain on that dog.  And I realized instantly where the loose pitbull had come from.  The night before when Izzy and I were out, I heard howling, barking and growling from beyond the railroad tracks.  I’ve heard it before, and it’s obviously a group of dogs that are either caged or within close proximity of each other.  I’ve seen several pitbulls with some rather large guys who walk them up my street and can barely hold onto the dogs when they see Izzy.

I think there’s a dogfighting ring close by . . . and I’m feeling two emotions:  fear that my Izzy wouldn’t have a chance if any large dog became violent and compassion for those dogs who are chained up in a yard or made to fight when they should be in a loving home.  Now my journalistic curiosity is aroused.  I need to find out what’s going on.

Walking Habits

Walking Habits
Izzy and I have established a routine: 5 walks each day, sometimes one more on the weekend. We leave the house around 6-6:15 AM, often in time to watch the sun rise, like this morning. A fairly banal sunrise today, but the sky did pinken a little, which always raises my spirits. That’s the long walk of the day. The streets in Uptown Roxboro are quiet, except for the trash truck making its rounds mid-week. We can count on seeing the retired school teacher who sits on his porch smoking his morning cigarette, as well as the old Black lady who lives in the group home up the street and also smokes nonstop. Sometimes we run into a couple of our dog friends: Peaches, the female boxer who does a GI Joe, belly-to-the-ground when she sees Izzy, or the new little Terrier who belongs to the retired school teacher’s wife (and is still a puppy so rather crazy).

We come back to the house and Izzy lies on the guest bed in my office (see the pic) until I get out of the shower, then we go out again for a quick walk up the street, one last pee before I go to work. Izzy always knows when I’m ready to go and races me to the door for that brief walk.

Then I’m home for lunch. He has slept all morning so is ready and waiting at the back door, his nose pressed up against the glass. He bops around, wagging his tail, tongue hanging out, ready to walk. We do a quick walk up the street, and the energy level is definitely different than our early morning walk. I eat my lunch, he sleeps on the rug and watches me, and he knows that when I go to the door this time, I’m gone.

After work is another long walk, and this one is the busiest. We sometimes pick up my next door neighbor/friend, Deb, and we talk as we walk. Izzy is actively sniffing all the other dogs that have recently left their scents on the street and most of the time, we meet one of them. Last night was one of those meetings, and it didn’t go well.

One of our favorite dogs was an old Shipperneke that had been the long-time companion of a kindly 80-something gentleman who’d been through several strokes. The dog was blind, fat, and slow, but she loved seeing Izzy, and her ‘dad’ and I talked about the dogs, the weather, and his health whenever we met on the sidewalk. When Lacey, the Shipperneke, passed over the rainbow bridge, the old man was bereft. For a long time, I didn’t see him, then one day, we passed his son on the sidewalk with a new dog: a young, reddish, Pitbull mix with lots of energy.

The old man still walks with a cane but now he has his “new girl” to accompany him. Unfortunately, she’s got way too much energy and no manners whatsoever. I worry that she’s going to make him fall one of these days. Last night when we came up to them on the sidewalk, Izzy was excited to see his new friend. She sniffed him, then turned and suddenly, she bared her teeth, growled and lunged. Though she’s a small pittie, she’s strong and it took all the old man’s strength to hold her back.

“I think we’d better go the other way,” I told him, as he struggled to hold onto his dog.

Izzy looked from the dog to me and pranced from one foot to the other, as if confused.

Deb, Izzy and I retraced our steps, with Deb and I looking over our shoulder at the old man and the now frantic dog.

“She needs exercise and training,” I told Deb. “He’s never going to be able to handle her unless she learns how to behave.”

And as I said that, I realized that Izzy, who had once had aggression issues, was now acting like the model dog.

As Cesar Millan says, once you master the walk, you master the dog. I agree!