Can winter be over yet? Please?

It’s the end of January here in Michigan. The middle of winter. I know this because I’ve lived here nearly all my life and that’s just the way of the winters here. They start as early as October and go as late as May.

This one was kind enough to start later in November. But then, it got ugly. December was day after day of snow. I liked it at first. Fluffy and clean. But I thought for a while that our house might become the Noah’s Ark of modern times (what with our three pets and three humans). The snow just kept coming. One day we got about 12 inches and I hardly got back down our street when I left work.

And after December wrapped up, January felt the need not only to dump more snow, but to also deal up some frigid temps.

I’m not so enamored of the season anymore. In fact, I’m done.

But…

I’m trying very hard to look at the bright side. So as I walked Juliette through unshoveled sidewalks after a day of another three inches of white stuff, as I huffed and puffed along under my heavy winter gear and the uneven path, I decided to relish the fact that I was getting some pretty decent exercise. That’s my ode to the snow for today. I’ll have to try to come up with more since we’re nowhere near the end of this stuff.

Oh, fickle me!

I’ve decided I don’t want to run my 365 Days project here and on Flickr, so I’ll just keep it in the Flickr realm and if you feel so inclined, you can check it out there.

Yet another change of my mind, I know.

I haven’t had proper time to organize this site either. My blogroll, sadly, has only made it to A. I’ll get to it, though.

Until then, here’s Lucy, who you may recognize from the blog header. Isn’t she cute?

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Sniff and snap

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A couple of afternoons each week, Juliette and I get a window of time to ourselves. Sometimes we visit her beloved dog park, but I often walk her along the sidewalks, logging at least half an hour so I can get in my exercise quota.

She’s won the Doggy Lottery because it’s pretty much all dog park now. She was diagnosed with arthritis a month ago and the vet explained that shorter walks would be much better for her.

So we stroll the four blocks to the park and I let her loose to sniff to her heart’s glorious content. It’s truly bliss for her. She’s been going to the park for seven years now and she considers it HER park. Like an extension of her own backyard, although with many more trees and squirrels to harass.

On the nicer days, I’ve begun taking my camera along with us. She sniffs. I snap. I’d honestly never really considered the park a very photographic place. It’s mostly wide-open, sunny space, with one row of large trees, smaller trees scattered about, four picnic tables and a softball field.

Yet lately, with the quiet of her companionship, I’ve taken more time to really look at what’s there. The simple things, of course. That’s where real beauty lies.

To combat my lost exercise opportunity, I hike around the perimeter, canine following at her own snail-like pace, and aim my lens at nature. Or sometimes at my foot.

I can never match her super-crazy, unbridled, almost-fall-down-the-stairs excitement when she knows I’m about to grab her leash, but I’m really coming to treasure our little solo walks.

I shall dub this “Pet Week”

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They don’t always get as much sunshine as they deserve anyway. With the arrival of the Cute One, the animals certainly had to take one step down on the family ladder. But not in a disrespectful way. Mostly in the way that a parent has to prioritize.

I still adore them all. (Except maybe during the moments when all three are following me throughout the house begging for their individual needs while I’m trying to get other stuff done.)

This one, my adorable mutt, has been worrying me the past few days. Something’s amiss. She’s balking at the stairs, up and down. And believe me, our home is filled with stairs. Even the deck outside has a couple she has to traverse. So this is not a good thing.

She’s even been, gasp!, sleeping on her dog bed. Due to laziness on our part, she’s claimed the big couch as her own. Its location right in front of the living room window probably has something to do with that too. I gave up the battle long ago and bought slipcovers to try to prevent the couch from turning into a disgusting mess of dog hair, mud tracked in on paws, and slobber from various dog toys. But the last two mornings she’s been on her bed next to the couch.

She’s almost 7 1/2. That’s not so old, right? I realize she’s a senior in dog land, but she must have a few more years on her. I’m just hoping she sprained something or possibly got spooked on the stairs one day when we weren’t here. Something minor. Fingers crossed.

The escaped convict

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Lucy isn’t allowed outside. For various reasons. Number one being that I had her front claws removed, which I’d undo if I could. But I can’t. So she’s front-clawless and thus defenseless.

Secondly, I have no desire to see my cat squashed by a car. The mere idea gives me the willies.

Thirdly, she bee lines for the grass. Any greenery. She’s not picky at all. As long as it’s green, she’s going to eat it. Then she proceeds to come back inside and throw it up.

She wants to be outside as much as I want to keep her inside. So she plants herself near the door in hopes that some clueless soul will let their attention slip and leave the door open a tad too long. Then…zing!

Tonight I went outside for a few minutes and returned to the door to see one dog head and one cat head peering in my direction. So I just decided to let her out and see what happened. She got maybe three minutes of fresh spring air before she found a big thicket of grass near the deck and started to chow down.

I think those three minutes were quite happy ones for her, though.

This dog is dogging me

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See this adorable dog?

I love her. Yes, I do.

I gave up an entire summer for her. Agonizing time, that. She ended up on doggie prozac, and almost put me in the human version. (Probably should have gone ahead with it then since I ended up on it anyway!)

I bust my butt for this dog because…one, she’s a sweet, wonderful canine and two, I believe that pets deserve a commitment. When you bring one into your home, you owe them love, attention and even a few sacrifices.

And that’s been all good for so long.

Lately, though, our relationship has changed. It’s subtle, but it’s also bothering me.

She’s a dog with zero confidence to begin with, so she’s never been assertive. Lately, though, she’s doing this passive-aggressive thing where she sits and stares at me all the time, hoping with a hope of a million suns that I’ll get up from my spot and take her for a walk. Which she should know after three years with a child at home that I can’t usually do until after Scott returns from work.

And while I’m gone three days a week, she sits nicely and holds her potty for 5:00 PM. On the days I’m home? She wants to go outside every ten minutes. If we go downstairs to watch TV or play, she’ll wait alertly for me to make any more toward the stairs so she can rush upstairs and sit sentry at the door. I’m fine with letting her out every couple of hours, but the back door has become a revolving door.

Once she’s out, she’ll do her sniffing and then come back and sit on the deck, looking at me through the window. When I open the door? She just keeps sitting there looking at me.

OK, here’s my last complaint. She’s also started getting underfoot much more. Every time I turn around, my path is blocked. And she doesn’t get the “please move” hint very well. The other day I was a bit stressed and she was standing in front of the stairs I was about to descend and I just yelled at the poor dog: WILL YOU JUST PLEASE MOVE???

Oh, Juliette. I so, so love her. I just wish I knew what was going on in her doggie mind.

Pete has a new home!

We used to have two dogs.

I was heartbroken when we had to say goodbye to Pete nearly two years ago. I even pondered going to visit him at the shelter after we took him back, but our trainer advised us that it wouldn’t be good for him.

So I satisfied myself with checking the shelter’s website every couple of months. His face was always there. Looking a bit sad. And furthering the guilt I felt that we weren’t able to make it work with that dear dog.

Today I received an email from my husband with a link that took me here. I immediately felt the tears come on because there’s Pete…looking happy and well-loved. Just what I’ve been hoping for all this time. He’s snuggling on a couch and romping with other dogs. He’s no longer sleeping on a hard floor in a shelter, even though that shelter was a safe haven.

The only negative is the wording they chose:

“…Petey was returned by his adopters because of a new baby on the way.”

Not true. Not at all. We’ve been unfairly grouped in with the people who actually see animals as disposable. Who give up dogs or cats because it’s not as convenient to take care of them when you have a child.

We would never have given up Pete if he hadn’t acted aggressively toward Devin. I had to put my son first. But it wasn’t an easy decision. I cried for a week straight. Dogs aren’t dogs to me. They’re family. And my other three pets are still a part of our family, despite their quirky behavior. And, yes, despite the fact that it CAN be inconvenient to fit in a dog walk or to clean the litter box some days.

I made a commitment to each of my pets. I’m in it for the long haul. If Pete hadn’t snapped at Devin that day, he’d still be here too. We didn’t know if he would try that maneuver again, and we couldn’t take the chance. But if we couldn’t keep him, I’m incredibly happy that another family could. I know that he has a good heart and I know that he deserves happiness.

My dog is mad at me

She refused to even touch her dinner tonight. She’s moping around the house. She won’t come into the office and lie down next to me.

All because I can’t take her for a walk.

Is it my fault that my husband had to travel out of town for two days? No, Juliette. It’s HIS fault. HIS. So save the pouting stuff for when he returns and stop looking at me with those mournful eyes. Pleeeaaaase.

Did you smell that?

It’s never a good thing when you’re sitting in your office with the door closed, your canine napping quietly at your feet, and you hear a tiny little phhhhtt.

Dog farts in enclosed spaces are not pleasant.