Finally – outside and she sees a friend who also likes to chill.
Last night I was hugging my dog. She’s a delightful little bundle. I keep her clean but she smells like a dog. Last night I was breathing in her boggy odour and Christmas came to mind. That thought has been plaguing me and today I grabbed her and took another deep breath. Today I got deep comfort. So the childhood memories that are attached to that fragrance are all wrapped up in the dog smell. Dogs have been at my side [cats too] all my life and have given me lots of comfort.
I have a very keen sense of smell – a family gift. When I travel or am somewhere special I always test the air and enjoy it like a fine wine, even if it is Paris fumes. These smells enrich images of places. Apparently smell brings back memories and I have to say it does for me. Memories come with smell attached. I can’t think of the horse I had as a young person and not remember hugging her neck and breathing in her lovely scent. I remember hay rides, the grass and ocean smells of the West Coast, damp dark starry nights, snow in the air, the earthiness of spring and the acrid smell of fall leaves. Of course I try to remember the odours that are good ones. I try not to think on smells that I am repulsed by – like hyacinths.
We had to listen to some crying at the dining room table today. 1st corn of the year – US product. Very sweet and juicy. She must use a place-mat or she can’t have it. That goes for any food that can’t be cut and placed in her bowl.
We will be working on the crying part asap.
This is the look we get when she really wants us to do something – just before she goes into her bullying mode.
Usually I won’t even think to give my dog a cooked bone. We had a nice Lamb roast during the holidays and as usual I had a garbage thief. The same thing happened when Dali discovered corn on the cob. We see a very determined chihuahua racing for a hiding spot, with a large object clenched in her jaws. I monitored the lamb bone. After each sitting I put it into a sandwich bag and over the next 5 days she has had a wonderful time wearing it down and getting the marrow out. I also gave her strips of dried sweet potato [purchased that way] and this seems to have kept her digestion just fine. Unfortunately kibble isn’t the favourite for this diva these days. We play dog bowl curling between the two of us – she kicks it to me and I kick it back, only to take it away for another time.
Note the place-mat – as the bone was greasy and odouriferous I made her use it even when she wanted to chew while on the sofa. After each one hour chew fest, I had to wash her face and paws, as she smelled strongly of roast lamb.
Running is all about the experience. Walking is more meditative. When I walk I tend to think about things in a dream-like way. Sometimes I forget about my posture which leads to some pain or twinge. Walking allows me to reflect on my surroundings and all I see, hear and breath. Running is very different for me – although the pauses and the blood pumping do heighten the visual. When I’m running I am very focused on my form. I have weak ankles and must stay focused so as to stay upright. I also suck in my gut and hold my spine up to protect it from my not so elegant running. I hate running like a girl. I work on that too – trying to power up my stride and form. The results are all good. I am finally rediscovering my waist and a firm musculature to my legs and but.
I haven’t run in years – many years. I remember running as a youth – just for the fun of it. Surprisingly it wasn’t very fun in gym class. I can only say that gym made it a chore and I hate chores. I would run down the gravel road or the dirt lane-ways with abandon. When I lived north of San Francisco I got into running – ran for 10 then 15 minutes at a time until I built up to a 1/2 hour. I never got higher than that as it was a good amount to stick to. My son was another motivator when he was quite young – we’d run a lot. Two years ago I got a dog to get me out of the house and to be a companion. When I’m alone I tend to read or paint – neither exercises anything but my eyes and hands. It is working. Dali and I go out every day – multiple times.
I live in an urban area that can get boring after a year of walking in the same parks or streets. I have used the baseball field for running as it is kept really smooth and has a stone-chip outer edge to the field, like a lane-way. After 2 years, even the dog is not too motivated some days. Out of desperation one day I took to running in the soccer field. For some reason it is more fun – perhaps because it is full of surprises [holes] and it is something new.
At first my running was pretty sad. One trip from goal post to goal post just about killed me. Now in the soccer field I feel elation. I can run up and down and across many times just trying to keep my legs pumping and staying upright. A few days ago I thought I instantaneously sprained both feet when I was in a real sprint. Humbled I limped along until I could try again. There is a sort of stiffness that has settled in to my tendons as I have aged – probably due to a more sedentary lifestyle.
Naturally my dog loves the running. I trick her when she’s sniffing at something and not paying attention – I sneak away as fast as I can. Naturally she’s at my side in no time. It is fun to look around and see her ‘flying’ across the field. She loves the challenge of not losing me. Running with her off leash is best for us both. With the leash she seems to think she has to win the race so it may look pretty funny with me running behind a Chihuahua in full-out running mode. It is even better to run around in the country. My parent’s collie thinks so too.
I turned 60 recently. It has really made me think about aging and taking your body for granted. I love going to the soccer field and running around like a nut while the local kids are playing nearby. They don’t seem to take any notice of me but they love the dog. As I look around I can see that I am the only adult having fun. Perhaps I am a less mature individual – I’ve always been a bit different. It shocks me that as we age we think we can’t be exuberant. Is there a rule?
All the dog-walkers in my area stand or stroll – no power walks or running. Their dogs must be very upset. Their inactivity makes me want to scream. Any adults I’ve asked have declined the idea of running with their dogs – they say, ‘they can’t run any more’. Of course you see runners in the park – if they have dogs they seem very happy.
Toys as Mental Stimulation
How it started: My husband had a plastic blow-up base-ball at work, that she grabbed when we picked him up one day. Dali would wrestle it – hugging, rolling, pinning it down and then carry it around triumphantly, when half deflated. It had to be repaired a lot. Then Dali found a plastic bag that had held bedding – that one came from the closet. It was bigger than she is and because it has to be supervised so she wouldn’t eat the plastic, it is now history – it was fun while it lasted. Then of course on laundry day she loves to wrestle the bags I use, once they are empty. This is how we started the ‘Naughty’ game. Whenever she finds something that’s OK but wasn’t given to her – we ask her, “Are you being naughty?”. This will get her very excited and off she runs with her prize, expecting to be ‘chased’. It is a great game. When she finds something ‘bad’ it is serious and after she drops it I thank her and off we go to the garbage.
The newest find: I use a lot of rags for my art clean-up and they come from old T-shirts and Hoodies. They are kept on my art shelf. Recently my Chihuahua found them. She is always checking out my art bag and my art supplies – so training is in progress. Getting back to this new toy idea, I see that a rag about 12″x18″ is perfect wrestling material for my pup. This is a T-shirt with the sleeves and neck removed. When you cut down the sides you can make it into 2 rectangles. I think that one of the reasons this is so interesting is that the T-shirts are from our old ones and they still must smell of us, although they have been laundered.
The Games: Dali brings me the rag and I loosely knot it and throw it as far as I can. Off she goes to retrieve it and worry it into submission [or whatever is going on in her imagination]. She even brings it to her bed to wrestle. After it is open again she brings it back to be rebuilt. Once tired of the loose knot I add the ball. The ball is rolled inside the fabric – leave it possible for the ball to come out. Dali loves to hunt for her ball – any ball. The knot throws better too and bounces a bit, adding to the excitement. When she gets the ball out she nudges it in my direction so I know she wants me to try again. This is a good opportunity to offer praise and join her in her happiness.
Mental, creative and physical play all in one. I really like this toy – it is simple and at the same time the dog gets to use its brain to figure it out. I believe it encourages fantasy play as well. Besides the ball I have added her chew antlers, the toilet rolls and scrap paper she loves. Now I have to stop her from searching for more ‘rags’ to wrestle.
My husband has remarked that our living room looks like it did when our son was 3. We have a spoiled Chihuahua, I think. In fact the whole place has toys everywhere. I find myself picking them up and putting them back in her toy box. By the late evening the sofa is covered in chew toys and the hall rug is all twisted up from some manic ruffian behavior.
From the moment she saw it, this blow-up ball has been a favourite. I can’t leave it around or it would be in pieces. She waits patiently for me to blow it up after I put another electrical tape patch on a new hole.
She has many balls: Chuck-it floaters, whistlers and crazy-bouncers as well as a lovely quiet waffle ball, and a large soft fabric soccer ball. She has a Jane Goodall pull toy and rabbit and weasel stuff-less squeaker toys appropriately named Rabbit and Weasel. She will bring them to me if I ask for them by name – at least sometimes. I’ve made a hand puppet for her to wrestle with. We call that one Squirrel and it saves your hands and allows Dali to get into the fantasy.
I have bought may chew bones – the deer antlers are our personal favourites. For a small dog she can work a small one into stubble in 4 months. I now buy the medium-sized bones and it is pretty sweet watching her walk around with one. It looks like she has a cigar. She ritually works her teeth after every meal.
I bought a large antler for my mother’s Border Collie but my mother’s caregiver has allowed him to take it outside and it is lost. At $15 a bone I am not impressed. He really liked it too. Some of the toys I’ve bought him turn up again. I must have purchased over 10 Frisbee – all nice ones for his teeth and easy to see in the grass so the lawn mower or the hay cutter doesn’t end up with them in the blades.
I live in the city, mostly. Luckily we have many green spaces in my area and that is why I am still living in the same area for so long. Unfortunately you can’t take a dog everywhere. I can take her to the library, the pharmacy, the bank and to the park. I wish I could take her shopping. I bet Paris Hilton gets to take her Chihuahua anywhere she wants!
In the country, at my parent’s farm, my dog is extra happy. She has a friend there and she can go around ‘naked’. I see some dogs that like to wear a collar, scarf or sweaters ~ not my dog. We have laws in the city that require her to be on a leash at all times. naturally I am a rebel and let her off the leash to race after her ball – usually at the baseball diamond as she loves the dusty red grit on the ground. She loves to swim in the creek as well.
Having a buddy at the farm is a plus for Dali. In the city she has a few favourites in the dogs we meet. Recently she has fallen in love with a beautiful big Alsatian type dog, named Rusty. Rusty is very tall and is red all over except for his black muzzle. Dali throws herself at him and wiggles and dances all around him. He is very gentle and loves to play. Unfortunately he is leashed. Dali loves my mother’s collie as well and plays with him in the same manner. Strangely she rarely likes other small dogs even if they too are Chihuahuas.
Now that winter is long past, Dali and I are out every day. We are both getting fit and trim. I had to put her on a diet. I’ve never had a small dog before and I just kept offering largish meals and she is happy to eat them. Having her on a diet has made me cut back too. I can’t be snacking around her and not feel guilty – she makes sure I am.
I am not a writer but like many people I have aspirations. I’m off to sign up at the Weekly Post. I changed my mind about writing every day – have to leave some time for my art too.
Owning a Chihuahua
Last year we decided to get a dog, after waiting for 3 years since our cat of 18 years had passed away. My husband had some experience with Chihuahuas and suggested this breed as an answer to my desire for a walking and working companion. It was never my intention to own a small dog – or any dog while living in a big city. Here I am, almost a year in, owning the most adorable Chi there is. Dali is my constant companion, my art dog and my personal trainer. In fact I had better get her outside soon or risk much naughtiness from my darling. I see her out of the corner of my eye, wandering from room to room in quest of some activity. Best we hit the park for dog stimulation and calorie burning for us both.
We are back. It is a cool rainy October day and Chihuahuas tend to dislike this kind of weather. My Chi also dislikes outfits. When I got my coat and shoes out she was very excited and came over. Seeing the sweater made her run into the kitchen with a hang-dog look. After a bit of cajoling, the sweater was on and off we went. We left the park for an urban walk as the grass was too wet and cold for her liking. The temperature wasn’t too cold so I relented and took off the coat. In the end she was very dirty and wet. Her feet tend to splash mud and grit up her belly and sides. We were out for an hour but she really didn’t get much exercise. No other dogs were out to play with. She ran after the ball a bit but mostly she wanted to go home. When we got home she had to have a bath.
For many years I lived in the country and over time we had a few big dogs – Border Collies, mixed breeds and a Doberman. We even had some medium-sized dogs – Schipperkes, a Rat Terrier, and Schnauzers . Most of these dogs had abundant freedom and were great companions when farm work or horseback riding was the activity. Along with dogs we had many cats. Cats are a great pet in the country and the city except where there are lots of Coyotes. My Doberman was my last dog and the city was no place for her. As I work in the city, I got a cat a few years later and then another. They were great companions but were locked into the apartment and balcony experience.
I don’t want to give the impression that Dali isn’t up for lots of activity. She loves her walks and plays many games, including her racing around the apartment like a small greyhound. This past spring and summer was her 1st and she learned so much about her environment, people and other dogs. We visited family in the country and she reveled in the freedom, exploring and playing with her pal Adam.
In the city she has pals in the park and at my art teacher job north of the city. She travels well and is quite good about doing her business before a car trip or just afterwards. In the car, she stays in her dog crate . The crate is where she sleeps at night and where she will go to nap when I am working. The crate was originally for my cats and it has been a great investment. Dali is about 9 lbs and although lighter than the cats, when she’s snuggling in her blanket she fills the carrier nicely.
Now after her bath and a nice lunch she is pressed against my back on my chair, sleeping. Lucky for me this old chair has a long seat. I didn’t mention it before but as I type, my budgerigar named Bow, is sitting on my knee preening and chirping. The budgies are free-flighted and that means they have the free reign of the back 3 rooms, flying where they want, which includes my studio.
to be continued …
- Writing Challenge, anyone? (thexiauishow.wordpress.com)
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- National Novel Writing Month is NEXT MONTH!! (veronicasrandomness.wordpress.com)
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