Walking in the Rain

The dog and I went for a walk, even though it was raining. He went on three bunny chases. One was clearly just optimism. No bunny; he just hoped a bunny would be there when he got there. The second was a genuine bunny, but it was so close to the woods that it was gone by the time the dog had taken three steps toward it. The third time, though, I think was just for fun. He got back from the second run, seemed so happy with having done it, and he took off again.

I mean, I don’t blame him. Bunny chases are awesome. He sprints off as fast as he can. He comes to a screeching halt. He stares intently into the woods, sometimes pacing a little, and then he comes ambling back to me so that I can take his leash again. All the while I’m telling him what a good boy he is and how brave he is for taking on the bunny and how proud I am of him coming back when he’s called.

I need to remember to get a ball the next time I’m at Petco or Tractor Supply. When we first got him, he was not interested at all in Fetch. It seemed to hurt his feelings that we would throw his stuff away from him.

But now he seems to enjoy playing. I mean, he’s not serious about catching the bunnies or he’d be sneakier about it. It’s just fun for him to chase after them. I mean, two out of three bunny chases today, there was no bunny. And he’s gotten much better about coming when he’s called and he really seems to enjoy the part of bunny chasing where he returns to me with effusive praise.

I wonder now if he might enjoy Fetch. But, oh boy, I am wondering if I can do it–train him to play Fetch. I’m not even sure how I got him to start coming pretty consistently when he’s called. I mean, I know at some level, it’s constant repetition, strong expectations, and rewards he likes. But the things I’ve managed to train this dog to do are mostly matters of grave importance–like recall and not walking like a complete doofus on the leash–or are building off skills he already had–like he likes to get up on the couch, so training him what “up” meant was not difficult.

And I think he could definitely learn to play Fetch. But, y’all, I’m not sure I’m smart enough to take this dog and give him a whole new skill. But I think he would love it, so I want to try. If he’s willing to stick with his hill-rolling-down practice even when it terrified him so that he could reach these days of happily rolling down the hill, I should be willing to work on my Fetch training skills even when it’s hard so that we can get to happy days of me throwing a ball and him running after it.

Dog Fight!

Y’all, Sonnyboy got mad yesterday! The orange cat had struck him repeatedly in the face and the dog gave a big old angry growl/snap in the cat’s direction. If you know how dogs say “Fuck off,” you know the cat wasn’t in any real danger, but I was still surprised!

I was telling the vet that Sonnyboy never seems to get down or mad. I mean, the Roomba cornered him in the bathroom and he just took it knocking into his legs for a minute until it decided to go elsewhere.

Sometimes I forget how old Sonnyboy is, because I feel like he’s experiencing a lot of things that most dogs experience earlier. Like running. Like cuddling. Like it being safe for him to be deeply annoyed and then mad at the cat. I don’t ever want him to be mean. And, frankly, I’m not sure he has a mean bone in his body. But I want him to feel comfortable disliking things and not standing for them.

And today, you guys, this morning, he threw himself down the hill and he slid on his back head first halfway down and I was a bit scared because on your back head first seems like a dangerous way to go down a hill. But he got up and he came over to me and he seemed satisfied.

And I feel lucky that this wondrous mystery is my friend.

Magic

Nothing makes me happier than when the dog comes when I call him. It feels like magic. Today he was across the neighbor’s yard, heading into the far neighbor’s yard and I called for him and he looped back around in a big circle and came running right to me.

I don’t know why it worked when so many mornings this would have involved me wandering through back yards calling his name while he hijacked an AT&T truck, but it did!

Also magic: if you’re making a twelve-square afghan, when you’re at three squares, you’re only 1/4 done, but when you’re about to finish your 4th square, you’re 1/3 done.

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There’s Only So Much Poop in Your Dog’s Ear You Can Live With

On Friday, I met with my therapist, which went well, but still took a lot out of me. I’ve only seen her three times, but I now know to kind of expect that I will sleep a lot after it.

So, Saturday, I wake up at 7:30. I take Sonnyboy for our normal walk. He somehow manages to get so tangled up in his harness that he can’t walk–and remember, he got out of the house, so it was on right when we were in the garage and yet, by the time we got to the AT&T yard, he was a mess. So, I had to wrestle him out of his harness and try to get him back into it, which he “aided” by repeatedly sitting down in the most convoluted way. But eventually, I got it.

We got up to the road and he almost immediately rolled in poop. Not on his back, which would be gross enough, but all up in his head and his ears and down his front legs and I tried to drag him out of it, but I am not stronger than him and that poop was, apparently, awesome.

He smelled so bad. It was like a mixture of regular poop smell with like rotting raw beef. I shudder to even remember it.

Then he went full-steam after a bird and got tangled in some barbed wire. Not terribly. But then he was limping and I tried to get him to show me his paw and he was like “And now I’ll just lay down in the middle of the road! Please do not look at my paw, I am busy licking it.” But then he got up on his own and it seemed to be tender but not terrible.

But so here we are, coming down the home stretch and who is standing by the tree but the little old lady he terrorized the other week and her dog who he tried to force to play with him?! But she sees he’s kind of limping so we exchange greetings and she asks what’s wrong and, of course, I’m trying to hold him back from her dog and her tiny little dog is like “Son, I will eat your face off.” And I believed him.

So, I tell her the barbed wire story and just as you would hope from any grandma-looking type, she starts to coo over him and she clearly wants to come over and pet him and comfort him.

But I have to warn her off because he’s covered in poop.

So, so much for making a friend of an enemy yesterday.

We get home and I am just like, I can’t deal with the dog yet. Oh, right, also because I notice on our walk that he is riddled with fleas. I mean, just riddled. Like that motherfucker looked to be hosting the flea circus family reunion. And I’m like “You have a quadrillion dollar flea collar and I pet you all the time. Where did these come from?!”

So, it’s not just a matter of poopy-head. It’s also fleamaggedon.

I eat my breakfast. I go into the bathroom to get it set up for bathing him, because normally the trick is to have everything for Sonnyboy’s bath ready to go and then you have to cajole him into getting in the tub and it takes half your life.

And I’m supposed to meet S. for coffee at 10:15.

But I wasn’t even to the point of getting the dog shampoo opened when I first said, “How’s about a bath?” and Sonnyboy came in and deposited himself right in the bathtub. From out of nowhere! Or, you know, somewhere in the house, but not in the bathroom.

But he doesn’t like to have his head in the tub when he’s getting a bath and his head was where all of the poop was, so, dear reader, I just washed his head outside of the tub and said, “Fuck it, I’ll just towel up the floor.”

And a lot of fleas came off in the wash, though not as many as I’d feared.

But I am disgusting now, so I text S. to let her know I’m going to be a tiny bit late because of Walkpocalypse 2017 and I get in the shower myself.

Problem 1 settled. Walkpocalypse dealt with.

But what about Fleamaggedon? So, I got him a new collar. I got him two new dog beds and his two old dog beds went in the trash. I sprayed down the couch and the Butcher’s bed with flea spray. And though I had been using Frontline on the cats, I picked up some Advantix.

Reader, I defleaed that mean old orange cat by myself. And he is still pissed at me. He spent all morning hiding under my dresser making mean meows at me. He did come out for breakfast, of course, but he was snitty about it.

New kitty, of course, didn’t care. Except for all the fighting and the killing, I’ve never owned an easier cat.

I ended my day thinking, “Okay, problem solved.”

But, like Jason rising from Crystal Lake, I sat down to poop before going to bed (yes, that’s TMI, but it also brings the day full circle, so I’m leaving it) and there I am, stuck on the toilet, and something(s) starts biting my legs. The fleas from the bath, who got caught up in the hair and thrown in the trash can are out for revenge.

It sucked, but I laughed. And sprayed down the trash can.

Shame?

This morning, the dog peed in the living room. I was in the bathroom, coincidentally, also peeing and I looked over and there he was. You don’t want to learn that your living room slopes toward the bookcase that’s too heavy for you to move under these circumstances, believe me. But here we are.

I soaked what I could get up with towels, then ran a mop over it. It still smells not great, I think, but I’ll do a serious mopping of it this weekend and see where we end up.

The interesting part is that at first, he acted as if nothing was amiss, just a dude peeing in the living room, as you do. But when I appeared with my arms full of towels, he got a kind of weird look on his face and he retreated to the dining room where he watched me.

Y’all, I THINK HE UNDERSTOOD THAT I WAS MAD. I decided to roll with it. When I sat down to put my shoes on, instead of giving him his morning butt scratches, I just glared at him and put my shoes on. Then we had an uneventful walk. I didn’t push the being mad at him thing too much because I want this to be constructive for him, not scary. Plus, he’s like a goldfish. Too much mad won’t matter because he’s not going to remember what I’m mad about.

And it’s not like we haven’t gotten mad at him in the past, but I know he never got it. He was just like “I’m doing a dumbass thing.” Utter disconnect. “You’re yelling and it’s alarming! Why is this happening?”

Today, I know he was like “Oops, you’re mad about the pee.”

And let me tell you, it was really hard to stay mad after watching him make that realization, but I felt like I had to roll with it a little bit so that it would sink in.

I wanted to throw my arms around him in a huge hug, though. But man, I did not want to positively reinforce that nonsense.

Plus, I’ve never really seen Sonnyboy down. If he’s ever been sick, I’ve not noticed. Sure, sometimes I’ve seen him feeling a little puny, but he shakes it off. So, there’s an outside chance he’s not feeling well and that’s why he peed (though his nonchalant attitude while doing it doesn’t really favor that interpretation) and I don’t want to punish the sick.

If I had to guess, based on her singing last night, I think new kitty caught something and brought it in the house to eat it and Sonnyboy, in the morning, peed where she made her kill.

The Feelings Journal

I remain surprised by how much time I have. Yesterday I cleaned out the litter boxes, took out the garbage and the recycling, framed some art, talked to my brother, talked to my parents, and still had dinner before seven and it took me forever to get home because Nashville cannot drive in the rain.

Partially, this is because I never think to turn the TV on. All last weekend, I watched a couple of episodes of Law & Order and the The Rock/Jason Statham portions of F&F7 and that was it. I prefer to listen to podcasts. I prefer someone to tell me a story, rather than show me a story.

I’m keeping a feelings journal. Yes, aside from this. That was my thought as I was doing it. Feelings journal? Please, I have a blog. I know about feelings journalling. But it is different. It still feels a little decadent to be spending so much time on myself. But I also find it really interesting. And strange.

Look at this happy dog. He recently discovered that he likes to be brushed. He especially likes his face brushed. And, as you can tell from this picture, he is made of sunshine. His feelings journal would be full of “today I felt alive and it was wonderful. Also, I pooped, and it was wonderful. And I ate and it was wonderful.” His feelings journal would be named “My Life: It’s Pretty Great.” Maybe he’d have an entry like “Carrots. Bleh.” or “It’s confusing to me that Betsy keeps putting this stinky expensive joint crap in my bowl when she knows I won’t eat it,” but they’d be very infrequent. “Kids! Did you know humans came in smaller sizes? And you can chase them and they’ll chase you? It’s wonderful.” would be much more common.

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I am Vengeance. I am The Night. I am Batman.

I finished the Batman cowl for my pending nephew. I still don’t get that pattern, but I have to admit that some of it is user error. I thought I did the same damn thing for both capes, but the blue one is somehow a ton fuller. I knew the gray one was going to be shorter, because of my screw-up on the blue one, but why isn’t it as drapey? That I don’t know.

And then, because I’m feeling anxious about going to the therapist this morning, I stayed up and started the crocodile stitch afghan for B., to see how it would go and how hard it’d be. It so far–unless I’m fucking up in some way I don’t yet know–is super easy, though I can see why every pattern warns you that it’s a huge yarn hog. I like the yarn B. picked out, though I’m hoping as it gets bigger, it will look less like the belt of a fertility goddess or an ode to Gene Simmons and more like a pile of rose pedals.

Otherwise, I’m going to feel very awkward about it.

The dog was not himself on our walk this morning. He stayed very close by me and didn’t run around and be ridiculous at all. I kind of felt like he might have been limping, like just a hair, in his left shoulder but, if he is, it’s so slight that, even watching him our whole walk, I couldn’t be sure.

I had planned to go see The Fate of the Furious this afternoon, but I’m sitting here telling myself that, if I just go to the therapist, I can come back home. I may make myself go anyway. I haven’t decided.

Basically, I hate two things about this: 1. everything. 2. Just feeling so fucking cliched.

Yesterday Was the Day

I figured a day would come when the animals might have the idea that the Butcher was not coming home. I was afraid of that day.

Yesterday, it rained in the morning, so I couldn’t walk the dog. Mistake. I came home from work and the front curtain was open, the cat food plate was on the ground and, when I tried to feed the dog, he got impatient and spilled his bowl all over the floor. Then the orange cat peed in my room. Looked straight at me while I was washing my hands and peed and then meowed at me like “fuck you, lady.” (Same cat who has been barfing hairballs on my bed for fun all week. Well, I assume. I haven’t caught the hairball barfer in action, but he’s who’s been sleeping in my bed.)

And then, and then, I turned off all the lights and went to put the dog out for the last time and barefooted I stepped in the largest pile of dog poop that has ever been pooped by a dog. It squished between my toes.

At the beginning of the evening, I was ready to ship them all up to live with the Butcher. By the end, I was ready to ship myself up to live with the Butcher and let these fools have Chaos House to themselves.

The Most Popular Dog on the Block

This morning, on our walk, we went past the mailbox that marks our turn-around spot and up the hill. There’s a place at the top of the hill I need to remember to put on my anxiety list, so we turned around there, but y’all it blew the dog’s mind. He was looking at everything, sticking his nose way up to sniff the air. I mean, we maybe went fifty, sixty yards beyond where we normally walk, but you’d have thought I took him to Hawaii.

Then, on our way back, all the AT&T trucks slowed down to wave at us. I waved back, since Sonnyboy doesn’t have hands. But I knew the waves were for him. No one remembers a woman walking alone. Everyone remembers the big friendly dog.

He’s stolen two of their trucks! Granted, he didn’t get far because he couldn’t reach the pedals, but he sat in the driver’s seats and wouldn’t let the drivers have their trucks back.

You try that as a person and you are a business’s mortal enemy. You are a menace. But you’re a dog and it’s wonderful.

The Dog Has a Minor Existential Crisis

My neighbor has thrown some stale bread in his back yard. Maybe English muffins, maybe hamburger buns. I haven’t gotten a close enough look to tell. But last night, Sonnyboy went over into the neighbor’s yard to eat one and I called him and he came right back, stale bread in mouth.

Y’all. I let him eat the bread because I was so happy he came when he was called. I don’t know. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but I want him to come when he’s called and if I call him over just to steal his bread from him, why would he come?

Anyway, so this morning, he’s out the back door like a shot and over to the neighbor’s yard and he quickly eats a little something and then comes bounding right back over to go on our walk. We get clear out to the far back yard and he starts making these big circles, like he kind of wants to go back and check the neighbor’s yard again.

I’m all “Come on buddy, let’s go for a walk!” over and over, but no, eventually he stops looping and just runs back and gets himself another stale muffin/roll. But he was so torn! He wanted to do the right thing but he also really wanted that bread.

And I have to say, it made me really happy, the way he hesitated and kind of couldn’t decide whether to behave or go back for more. Not because I’m thrilled he disobeyed me, but because, come on! When in the past wouldn’t that dog have disobeyed me for food? And, in the past he would have done it without hesitation.

But here! Now! Today! He had an internal conflict between doing what’s right and doing what he wanted. And, yes, he picked “doing what he wanted,” but what’s right got in there to make an argument! He had an internal conflict! He made a choice!

Sometimes I wonder if I’m reading too much into it, but I don’t think I am. This dog was dumb as rocks when we got him. And as much as I believe he’s benefiting from being loved and cared for, he could have lived out his days being dumb and sweet. I genuinely think this is about the thyroid medication. In humans, brain fog is a symptom of a thyroid problem, and my god, I think this dog had that symptom. And how would you diagnose brain fog in a dog? It’s only by watching him slowly transform into a dog who has thoughts once the fog has cleared.

Bah

I still feel bad. And I have a shit-ton to do next week, so I kind of need to get better faster.

The Butcher is in Illinois making another attempt to get a ring. I think this will be successful. I hope, anyway.

We dogsat the black dog all week and he was really easygoing and fun this time. But when his family came to pick him up and he settled right back in with his little girl, I felt like he’d never been truly happy here.

Also, now that he’s less anxious about being here, he didn’t run around and find all Sonnyboy’s bones. He just found the bone he wanted and “buried” it under the dog bed every day.

At least being sick has been good for one thing–I’ve gotten a lot done on these afghans. I just zone out, turn on some podcasts, and count to three a lot. That I can handle.

Ow, My Heart

We’re dogsitting Sonnyboy’s neurotic friend while his family is at Disney. So, this morning I slept in while the boys went to the park.

The Butcher told me that there was a point on the walk when the dogs seemed to be awkwardly playing with each other. Has Sonnyboy ever played with another dog before? Certainly not in all the time we’ve had him.

One thing I really respect about Sonnyboy is that he’s not bitter. If I had a boring life for the first four years (or whatever the human equivalent of that was) and then there was pizza and inside and cuddles and peanut butter and butt scratches and car rides, some part of me would feel like I had been up until that point cheated.

But the dog is just like “This is great!” Things were one way. Now they’re another. Just roll with it.

Guess what? Possum butt

This morning, we were walking and I was steadily watching the curve in the road because all walk, cars were coming around it too fast and seemed to not be seeing us. So, I registered a lump on the pavement but did not look too closely at it.

Then we were right up on it. A dead possum. And Sonnyboy stuck his tongue out and touched his tongue to the possum’s butt. “No!” I shouted and tugged him away. “Don’t eat that.”

But he didn’t seem to be eating it. He seemed just to be tasting it. Which, I admit, made me laugh, because he puts everything in his mouth to see if it might be food–Kleenex, carrots, mail–but not the possum. It he wanted to keep outside of his mouth while he decided if it was worth trying to eat.

And then, when we got back to the grass, I saw him eyeing a plastic bag in the bushes and I dropped the leash and shouted “Get it, get it!” and he ran up on it and was like “Yep, plastic bag. Knew it all the time.” And then I said, “Okay, come back, Rufus,” and he did!

My brother is officially telling people he’s married now, so, also, that’s nice. His oldest son Photoshopped Godzilla into one of the pictures and everyone agrees that it’s the best one.

I like when we can eek out a little happiness.

Do What You Want to

I have been feeling so decadent lately, just sitting around doing what I want to, or not doing what I don’t want to, for a whole week.

This morning the dog ran off on me. I think there’s another animal that’s been up near the houses, maybe the orange cat new kitty has been fighting with, maybe a coyote (though I hope not), and apparently that requires a lot of peeing all over the neighborhood.

I hollered and hollered and finally, when I yelled, exasperated, “Fine, I’ll just go for this walk without you,” who should come loping out of the darkness?

No use in getting mad at him. As much as he’s improved at being a dog over the past year (did I tell you all my theory that this may be due to the thyroid medicine? I mean, that’s the theory–he’s learning to brain because his brain is working in ways it didn’t before.), he still does not understand anger. It doesn’t mean to him, “Oh, shit, I have pushed things too far and should shape up.” It just means, “what the fuck is going on with her and am I going to get hurt out of it?” He just does not make the connection between my anger and his behavior.

Which, I mean, is not surprising. How recently did he finally get that his behavior could delight me?

But I realized, based on Christmas, I come from a loud family that uses a current of anger to shock people into behaving. I have very few skills for motivating someone who doesn’t understand all the yelling.

I think dogs teach you things. This dog is teaching me a hard thing I barely have the skills for.

This Day

I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.

The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.

Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.

To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.

I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.

Glorious

I am doing something stupid, which is letting the dog run big loops in my two neighbors’ yards in the morning before we go for our walk. He doesn’t consistently come when he’s called and he’s definitely too far away for me to control him with anything other than voice commands.

But when I see it, I just can’t bring myself to stop it. There in the dark, this pale blob, circling and circling and then running straight at me, tongue lolling, smile on his face. He pants and looks up at me like whoa, this is a good life.

And then this morning, he slid/rolled down the hill a good three or four feet and he wasn’t afraid. He loved it. And he leaped up and looked at me and then launched into this beautiful roll. And I felt so lucky to see it, so lucky to be there for it.

How often do we see miracles and just not realize it?

Yesterday, thanks to Facebook, I realized it was the third anniversary of the day we got him. If the vet’s initial assessment of his age was right, this makes him seven. I hate that with my whole heart because I can’t find any breed that he might be even a small part of that has a life expectancy longer than 10-12 years. We could, realistically, only have left as much time as we’ve had with him.

And yet, he seems so young to me because he is still learning things. He’s not yet set in his ways. There are still new things.

And even if it’s only for a short time, I feel very lucky to have him.

Is the Dog Getting Smarter?

This week, the dog has developed a really annoying thing where he stands near the couch and barks at the Butcher like he needs to go out, but then when you put him out, he comes right back in.

I mentioned as a joke to the Butcher that maybe Sonnyboy just wants him to go outside for some reason.

But my god, people, today the dog barked at the Butcher and barked and it was super annoying and the Butcher got up to brush his teeth and go to work and the dog just stole his space on the couch!

I think the dog has been trying all along to trick the Butcher into getting up so that he can have the warm spot on the couch! But, before this morning, the attempt always ended with the dog outside and not near the couch.

Today, though. Today it worked.

I would be more frightened, but last night our neighbor came over to deliver a misdirected package and to get us to sign a petition and the dog was so shocked to see him at our house–the man who lives right next door, whose yard the dog has to examine thoroughly before we can go on our walk–he fell out. The delight! The yard runs both ways! If the dog can get there, the neighbor can get here! How does it work? What magic is this?

So, even though he’s clearly learning to brain, he’s not at evil genius levels yet.

Ghosts

Last night I dreamed I was trying to seduce one of the Butcher’s friends at my grandma’s house by letting him sleep in her bed and play video games on my phone. Because nothing says “let’s have sex” like “here is my grandma’s bed. Lay in it and be distracted by this phone.” (Ha ha ha. This reminds me that we saw this commercial last night for some KY product. A guy and a girl are making out. A baseball team is standing in the room. He tells the baseball team to get lost because he’s got some kind of new KY spray. The commercial ends. We sit in silence. I try my damn hardest to make sense of what I’ve just seen. I turn to the Butcher and I say, “Is she supposed to squirt the spray in his eyes to keep him from being distracted by the baseball team? I don’t get what the spray does.” But it turns out that the spray is supposed to keep you from coming too soon and apparently a way dudes thought you could keep from coming too soon in the past was to imagine baseball? But how could that even work when Mark Grace played baseball?!)

Anyway, it got me thinking of how much I dream of my grandma’s house and I wonder if that’s a problem for the people who live there now. Do they have any sense that I am there some nights wandering around?

This morning, before our walk, Sonnyboy was back beyond the creek sniffing something in the trees and I could barely make him out. He was a formless shifting light spot in the treeline and I thought, this is how he will look when he’s a ghost.

And it make me wonder how much of ghostliness is just a longing for those places where we felt most at ease.

Daring

Y’all, have I been misinterpreting what the dog wants from the hill? Today it was raining, so the hill was slick and he threw himself down, as he does, and wiggled/slid his way down the hill on his back head first and then he leaped up like “Ta Da!”

Has this been it? Not rolling down the hill but sliding? Did I get to see the culmination of months of effort today? I can’t be sure.

I called my parents last night and told them about the anxiety and the drugs. Basically because I realized there’s a good chance that I’m still not going to be 100% at Christmas and obviously they would notice.

It was awkward and in the middle of it my dad switched mid-stream to talking about when they were going to come down for Christmas. And I said, “So, just to be clear, this makes me crazy.” And my dad said he already knew that about me. And we laughed. It was awkward and uncomfortable. Or, at least, I felt awkward and uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure what to make of their reactions. They didn’t really have any questions. My mom volunteered to drive me up and down windy mountain roads to see if the medication was working.

And then they wanted to eat dinner, so we got off the phone.

I don’t know. I don’t know what to make of it or how to feel about it.

The afghan I’m working on now is really beautiful, though, and it makes me happy. Also, my little cousin got her afghan in the mail yesterday, while she was home sick from school, and she loved it. So, those are the feelings I’m going to glom onto.

Living the Dream

One of the local parks–one of the big rural ones–is off-leash in the early mornings. Today Sonnyboy and the Butcher went there and Sonnyboy chased deer and made big circles in the field and still, somehow, came back to the Butcher when he was called.

The thing about a dog is this. Or maybe it’s a thing about everybody. But a dog can’t learn unless you put him in situations where he’s previously fucked up. If you want him to come when you call him, you have to put him in a position to come when you call him, which means letting him back into the circumstances where he has not come when you called him.

Today, he did it.

I am a little sad to have missed him bounding after the deer. I know how much he loves to chase things. But I never would have let him off the leash, so there we are, anyway.

I’m glad the Butcher could do that for him.

The Hill We All Roll Down

As you know, Sonnyboy is trying to learn to roll down the hill, for some reason known only to him. We have had a few successful rolls, but they are terrifying. Except today he positioned himself on a less-steep part of the hill and rolled down it and then looked at me with a big doofy grin and came over for head scratches.

I’m trying to understand this without anthropomorphizing it too much, but I also find this incredible. Not the rolling part. I can’t even be sure he really understood he was on a less-steep part of the hill. And I’ve just taken as a given that he for some reason wants to learn to roll down the hill and I am, in effect and pun intended, rolling with it.

But why would he come for head-scratches? I don’t want him to roll down the hill (I also don’t not want him to roll down the hill, of course. I’m just a curious bystander to the rolling.) so I’m not giving him any verbal commands. Sometimes he rolls behind me, so I don’t even think he’s picking up on something visual I’m doing. I’m not cuing him to roll down the hill, I don’t think. It’s purely something he does for himself that only involves me because I’m on the other end of the leash and need to try to keep him from tangling himself in it.

But somehow, for some reason, he must think that rolling down the hill is rewarding to us. He must think that I would want to pat his head in this moment because I am pleased. Maybe? I definitely feel like the thing that is happening is some sense of “we” between he and me is being created. He’s doing this thing that makes him happy and that must please us.

I think that Sonnyboy only understands at a very rudimentary level when we’re displeased with him. And even then it has to be immediate and loud. “No!” when he steps on your foot will get him to back off from stepping on your foot. But “no!” when you find him eating garbage seems only to confuse him.

So, I’m fascinated by this, because it seems to be some level of recognition that if he does this thing, I will have feelings about it.

A Difficult Thing

dog-in-hat

I made this whole inner part to the third square before I realized I had accidentally base-13ed a square I needed to have base-12. I didn’t bother to frog it. I just turned it into a hat for the dog. He found it far, far less amusing than I did.

I think the thing that is hardest about these squares is that each one is unique. You don’t learn much that aids you in the next from the one you’ve just done. But I think I’m going to sew the four squares together and then just build an enormous border on it, until it is the size I’d like it to be. It’s for a child, so it doesn’t have to be huge.

The thing I most dislike about crocheting, though, is the sense I have that it’d be much easier if I had basic math skills. Everything is a story problem I’m going to not know how to solve except for trying it, failing, and fixing it. Possibly there’s a metaphor for life in there.

Weekend of Mulling

I didn’t spend much time mulling this weekend, but I spent a lot of time doing things I will need time to mull over.

And when I got home yesterday, there was a fire in my fireplace. It made me so happy.

I’m almost done piecing this afghan together and then I get to put on its fancy border. It feels like it’s gone very quickly, this afghan, but I also feel like I ended up with more time than usual to work on it, so maybe it hasn’t been that short a time, just worked differently. Each square took me somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half to do, so right there, that’s 30 to 50 hours.

This morning, when I walked the dog at our usual time, it was gloriously light out and so I got to see the look on the dog’s face when he pitched himself down the hill in an effort to roll/wiggle down it. And this morning, he managed a complete roll–on his feet, down on his back, feet over body, back on his feet–which he seemed uncertain about because, while he clearly wants to get down the hill without walking, wiggling on his back down the hill is slower and I think he feels more in control. Rolling down the hill? I can tell he has mixed feelings about it. The rolls he does that take him down the hill instead of across the hill face always seem to freak him out a little.

Today, he rolled down the hill, one complete roll, and he came up from the roll with this look of grim determination–or, I mean, let’s be frank, as much “grim” “determination” as this goofball can deliver–on his face, like “Okay, yeah, I got this.” I spoke some encouraging words to him and he did seem to shake it off and look up at me with a happy smile.

But I have to tell you, I found myself really moved by it. I’m kind of tearing up right now just trying to write about it. He is a simple dog. When we got him, he didn’t understand wooden floors and he didn’t know how to run. I’m partially convinced that he doesn’t understand “no” because he’s never been allowed to do things, so how can he comprehend not doing them?

But somewhere along the way this year he seems to have formulated an idea–if rolling is fun, rolling down the hill would be super fun–and he has set out to acquire the skills he needs to make this happen. He has been learning to roll, then roll completely over, while also figuring out how to navigate down the hill without using his feet. All of these things have been fun. He takes great joy in them. But the times he has rolled down the hill accidentally I can tell have been scary as fuck for him.

But he keeps doing it and today, no, it wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t freak-out scary for him. And I swear, I don’t think I’m anthropomorphizing–I think the look he gave me when he got down the hill was pride. He did the scary thing he wanted to do and it wasn’t as scary as it had been.

And I find this marvelous, in both senses of the word. I love it and I marvel at it. Not the rolling. But watching this dumb, dumb dog slowly, over many, many, many days, months of days, practically a half year of days, formulate an idea, imagine himself doing something and then slowly make a plan for it and to work on that plan even when a component of it is scary as hell.

How does this even happen? I mean, we take it for granted. But he could not brain. When we got him, he literally could not brain. And now he has at least in this instance a sense of himself doing something I don’t think he’s ever done before. In other words, a sense of himself and a level of imagination and a desire. I mean, it’s not just that he’s problem-solving. That blows me away, considering he’s stymied by “there was a piece of pork chop in your hand and you opened your hand and where is the pork chop?! You are holding out your finger and thrusting it toward the ground. Is the pork chip stuck to your finger? Alarm! Where is the pork chop?!!!??!!!”

But it’s also that he understood he had a problem. I’m amazed that we’ve spent so long on step two, which indicates he has hope for a resolution, because I cannot understand what has happened that allows him to see that step one–I have a want and I can figure out what this want is–exists.

One thing that I admire and find confusing and lovely about dogs is that they are not human. Their brains don’t work like ours. You own a dog and you live with an inexplicable mystery that wants to sleep on the couch with you, for some reason, even though you haven’t even brushed your teeth yet. You live with a dog, you live with something that will, at heart, always be a stranger to you and yet, unlike stranger-ness in humans, it’s exactly the dog’s stranger-ness to you and your stranger-ness to it that allow you to care about each other.

So, I don’t know what’s going on in old Sonnyboy’s head. But I think there has, at least in this one way, been a paradigm shift for him and he has developed some sense of anticipation and, in order to do that, some sense of himself and of planning that I just genuinely don’t think he had before.

And I am in awe, such awe, to be witnessing it. I am seeing a new thing slowly coming into being. It’s extraordinary.