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Just a note to remind you that it is a good thing that you are loving and brave and affectionate and drop-dead adorable. Without these qualities . . . well, we won’t go there.

May I remind you that:

* My foot is still healing (well, thank you, but slowly) from the deep gash you gave me last September, the one that resulted in a severe infection that kept me hobbled for 8 weeks and in a $1200 hospital bill we are still paying off. Yes, I know we were just playing soccer and that you didn’t mean to hurt me and I should have had shoes on, but . . . just saying.

* We still haven’t finished paying the $700+ vet bill that resulted, last month, from your decision to make a midnight snack of the shreds of paper in my office paper shredder, thus earning yourself an intestinal obstruction that required 3 vet visits, two rounds of IV fluids, a set of X-rays, and several medications to, um, help you rid yourself of the offending obstacle. And yes, we were thrilled to high heaven when you recovered fully without needing surgery, but . . . just saying.

* Friends and strangers are still looking at me with shocked sympathy and looking askance at the poor pack leader (aka my husband aka the man who pays the bill for that expensive dog food you eat) on whom they needlessly blame this beautiful shiner I have. I just don’t see why it’s hard for them to grasp that my lovely airedale was doing his big horn sheep impression and nailed me in the temple when I bent over to pick some violets in the yard, resulting in blackness, shooting stars, and nausea. And, yes, I love the colors yellow and purple, but not so much around my eye . . . just saying.

* We’ll even overlook, for now, the purloined lasagna, the ham, the seafood curry soup, the Christmas cake, the berry cobbler, the $20 bill, the pounds of stolen butter (yes, we know it’s your favorite), the steak (ok, your dad still isn’t willing to overlook that one)–and the cost of the baby security latch we had to install on the refrigerator, but . . .
just saying.

It might be time to chill a little.

Loving you all the same,

Mom

P.S. Get off the couch.

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Over this past weekend we delivered Dinah and Crispin to their favorite dog hotel and hit the road for points west to visit First Child at his college’s family weekend. It was a beautiful drive  (albeit a long one–Pennsylvania gets longer and longer every time we make the trip), so much so that I finally told the Pack Leader that I was getting foliage fatigue from all the spectacular fall leaves and the astonishingly rich colors.

On Saturday we headed to the school’s football game.  I am in it for the band, in which First Child plays the trombone; you would laugh every year to hear the Pack Leader trying to get me to understand football. I finally decided it’s like listening to a zen talk: “dark to the eye, but radiant to the heart.”  I try to just flow with things.

As we approached the stadium, which sits in a beautiful green bowl ringed around with golden maple trees (made more radiant this weekend by the lowering dark clouds that threatened, but never quite delivered rain), I spotted a familiar shape sitting at the top of the rise around the bowl.

First Child had told us that since he started attending college, he regularly sees a woman walking an airedale up and down the paths of the school. He has talked to her several times about our airedales, and gets his little fix by petting and talking with her dog.  So we went over and introduced ourselves, and sure enough, this was Rollie with his owner, Wendy.

Rollie was delightful–though his eyesight isn’t what it once was  (at the tender airedale age of 13), he was a perfect gentleman and permitted himself not only to be stroked and scritched, but to be photographed. As the picture shows, there’s no question about Rollie’s football loyalty:

Want to see what Rollie saw (or heard) next? Okay, this is last year’s show, but you get the picture, and so did Rollie.

Cats and dogs at the antique show.

Love the little Warhol vibe going on in this appliqued and embroidered cat pillow. I’m thinking early 20th century, but there’s something incredibly modern about them.

Had to get two pictures of this little guy. He was wonderfully lifelike, and had such a great expression on his face. I’m not, as I’ve said before, much of a collector, but if I’d had any money in my pockets, he would most definitely have come home with me.

And I could have, too–had my camera in my pocket at the emergency room and took some doozies, mostly just to help myself stay calm.

Crispin has been on a crazy mad soccer binge. We have to spell the word out–S-O-C-C-E-R–if we’re saying it out loud, unless we’re fully prepared to initiate a very long game. But Friday afternoon of the holiday weekend I was taking a long break from my desk. The pack leader and I took our respective lunches to the shady picnic table in the back yard, and Crispin joined us in the hopes of getting up a post-lunch pickup game.

What he loves best is for me to kick the soccer ball very hard and very far–gives him more time to show off his speedy and graceful returns. I had just figured out that drop-kicking the ball worked best, when, faster than I can type this, the dropped ball met the top of my (flip-flop-clad) foot, he grabbed the ball, and–bingo–everything went all slow motion as dog tooth met people foot.

I promised no photos, but did you ever see the very vintage Saturday Night Live episode in which Dan Aykroyd does his Julia Child impersonation? The one in which she cuts herself?

Yeah, that one.

It was like that.

The next few hours were rather a blur of getting to the local emergency clinic, filling out forms, getting a tetanus shot, stitches (only half the number the PA said he’d normally use for a laceration that size–apparently, animal bites* get infected if you sew them up tightly), and two kinds of antibiotics as a take-home prize.

The next few days were less than a blur–rather long, slow, couch-ridden days. Taking pills, soaking the lac, watching too much TV, reading, having those near and dear to me peel me many grapes.

Within 2 days after the event . . . well, again, no pictures. Suffice it to say that it got infected after all, I got further acquainted with the emergency clinic staff (did I mention that this all took place over a holiday weekend?), and I was in the weeds for a day or two. Now, 6 days after the event, I’m much better. Not there yet, but much better. The infection’s gone, but I’m still more or less benched from any extended walking (and no more dog soccer for the moment) until the stitches are out.

Crispin, of course, has no idea. But he was mighty glad to see me each time I got home from a clinic trip. And yesterday he brought me the ball again.

In a few more days, boy. Just a few more days.

___

*I was at great pains to tell everyone who worked on me that my dog hadn’t bitten me. We were just playing soccer, I kept explaining. And, you know, these things happen.

Today’s news brings an article about how smart dogs are. They begin by acknowledging that the research they describe will come as no surprise to dog people.   A dog’s vocabulary, researchers have found, can run to some 250 words, they understand gesture and inflection, can count a little, do simple mathematical calculations and open the refrigerator.

Okay, so I added that last one. That might be Crispin’s special skill.

Professor Stanley Coren at the University of British Columbia compares the intelligence of the dog to that of a 2 year old human child.

I, for one, am a believer.  Our two are a little (ahem) unruly, but one thing we have done properly  is to crate train them well. They love their crates. Dinah, for various and sundry reasons, no longer sleeps in her crate, though she will go there if we ask her to, but Crispin simply adores his. We chalk some of this up to the fact that we have never used the crates to punish the dogs, they really only go in them to sleep (or if, say, the plumber has to come here and would rather work without any canine assistance), and they always get a dog biscuit once they’re inside.

And some of it simply to smarts.

Crispin’s bedtime is around 10:00 at night, and if we let it slip, he comes and seeks us out and stares at us pointedly until we say, “Time for bed,” at which point he races to the crate. If it’s latched, he unlatches it and waits for us inside while we get a biscuit from the box. And that’s it–typically, we don’t hear from him again until he hears one of us getting up in the morning.

Lately I’ve been trying out substitutes for “time for bed.” The other night I asked him, “Are you tired now?” and off he ran to the crate.

Last night First Child was making himself a snack and I was hanging out in the kitchen with him. Crispin came in and assumed the “please let me go to bed now” pose.

I looked down at him and asked, “Would you like me to read you a story?”

Bang–you never saw a dog run so fast. He beat me to the crate, happily accepted his bisucuit, and settled down to sleep.

First Child was duly impressed.

We’re 48 hours and counting since the bone-eating incident, and His Foodiness seems in every respect his same old charming, (very) active, affectionate, soccer-playing self.

I don’t think I’ll feel perfectly comfortable again until a couple of weeks go by without a problem, but tonight we may actually sleep. We’ve kept him under a close watch and haven’t left him home alone since he stole and ate the chicken wings (20 of them, for those of you just tuning in)  on Saturday night.

It’s funny (not in the ha-ha way) how, even when there’s nothing one can actually do in such a crisis, just watching, waiting, and worrying sucks the energy right out of you. We haven’t gotten much done around here in the past two days.

Thanks very much to everyone who asked about him (online and off). That means a lot.

So far, so good.  But it’s going to be a long time before I can look at a chicken wing again.

My dogs do plenty of really dumb things.  I won’t dis them by naming any of them (you can read about them here in past posts, anyway).

But once in a while they blow me away with their intelligence. I know–you’ve been a dog person for a long time and you take this for granted. I’m still new to this religion so I was startled and impressed when this happened yesterday.

I was in the back yard using the picnic table as my art studio. Crispin came out with me (not for nothing is his nickname Velcro Boy) and was keeping a watchful eye on his territory, and on me. After a while I realized Dinah hadn’t come out with us.

“Crispin,” I said. “Where is Dinah?”

He leapt to his feet and started looking all around us.

“Cris,” I said again. “Dinah’s in the house. Go get Dinah.”

He took off like a shot, and 12 seconds later he was back with Dinah in tow. We all settled down together to enjoy the afternoon.

I told this story to the Pack Leader, whose response was “Yeah, sure–what did you think he would do?”

I, however, am still in the beginner’s mind phase of dog person-hood. I’m impressed.

Just a quickie today to refer everyone back to Dinah’s (and my) traumatic 4th of July story. Click here to read about how we almost lost her–and about how we got her back.

Love your animals today and keep them safe from the snaps, crackles, and pops!

Yesterday afternoon Second Child and I spent some time playing soccer in the yard with Crispin. He has two soccer balls, a fat round one that rolls nicely so he can chase it and bring it back, and a partially deflated one that’s easy for him to carry and that throws sort of like a lead weight. Both of these activities are known to him not as “fetch” or “playing ball,” but simply as “soccer.” We say, “Hey, Crispin–soccer!” and he runs for the ball.

Airedales are natural soccer players. Here, for instance, is Dinah on her first day in our home, working on her game strategy:

So the radio’s on in the kitchen this afternoon, tuned to NPR’s Fresh Air, on which host Teri Gross and her guest are discussing over-involved soccer parents. The dialog on the show is going mostly: “so, soccer blah blah blah soccer soccer blah di blah di blah soccer and then soccer . . .”  And doesn’t Crispin run to the mud room, fetch the better inflated of the two soccer balls, bring it back to the kitchen, and set it down in front of the radio.

Coincidence?  I think not!

Letterman, look out!

Hysterical.  Why can’t my dogs do this?