Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's not a rut, it's a routine.

I was once accused of being in a rut because I do the same things, in the same order, every morning.

That's not a rut, that's a routine. It's a subtle difference.  Per, a rut is a fixed or established mode of procedure or course of life,usually dull or unpromising. 

To me the difference between rut and routine is the "dull or unpromising" addendum.  A rut is something you do repeatedly for no particular reason.  

I freely admit that my lunch menu is in a rut.  I have eaten tuna and mayonnaise for lunch almost every work day for the past 8 years.  About a year ago, I switched from crackers to celery sticks for the side.  It's a rut, but one that frees me from having to decide what to have for lunch.  And being in this lunch rut causes me no harm.  

What my morning consists of is a routine, designed to maximize my limited pre-work time and prevent me from forgetting to do a necessary task.  It is not a good start to your work day if you walk out to the car and realize you didn't make your lunch or forgot to feed the dogs. 

So my morning is a predictable, reliable, but not "dull or unpromising" routine.  I wake up and pet the dogs.  I do my morning exercises, if I'm not already sore and achy.  I floss and brush my teeth.  I put in my eye drops.  I get dressed.  We go downstairs.  I turn on the floor and ceiling fans.  I walk the dogs around the subdivision. 

I make my lunch and take my vitamins while the dogs wind down.  I feed the dogs, wash out their bowls.  I have breakfast and read the newspaper.  I turn on the TV to entertain the dogs in my absence, and check the food level in the dry food bowl.  I lay out treats to keep them occupied.  I leave for work. 

There are only slight variations on the routine for weekend mornings.  These are things that need to get done every day.  Having a particular order of execution makes it easier to remember where I am in the process.  I know if I skip directly to feeding the dogs after the walk, I will invariably forget to take my vitamins. 

There have been recent studies that indicate we only have the capacity for a small number of decisions during any one day.  If we use them all up early in the day, our ability to make wise choices later in the day deteriorates.  

My morning routine frees up my decision-making capacity for the late afternoon, important decisions.  

Like what to have for dinner. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A day with the dogs

Anyone who has read my blog lately will think my world revolves around my two dogs.  Well, actually I think it does.  Especially since I got Bogie three months ago.  I would claim that he monopolizes my attention because he is so big.  But my sister has a 9 pound Shih Tzu that is the center of her household.  Apparently size doesn't matter as much as attitude.  Or maybe, youth.

I can't say this was a typical day, but it's close.  I laughed often.

In the morning, I gave Bogie and Angel new toys.  One was a hard, S-shaped Nylabone toy intended as a rawhides replacement, that neither seemed to want.  The other was a Durable pink fabric dragon that Bogie adored.  I threw it down the stairs a few times but Bogie skidded on the tile floor at the bottom.  As funny as it was, I worried he would get hurt.  After that, I threw it into the bedroom so he had a carpeted path.  

Bogie was the epitome of Heel, all day, shadowing me every step I took as I watered the trees, filled the bird feeders, put the clothes in the washer, hanged the clothes out to dry.  But I can't get him to do Heel when I want him to.

The pink dragon was so popular that I figured I needed two.  While out running errands, I bought a blue one. Got home, put the packages on the counter.

Walked 14 feet to set my purse on the bookshelf.  Around a corner, but barely out of sight of the kitchen.

Back to the kitchen and Bogie was helping himself to the blue dragon.  He even got it out of the plastic shopping bag.  He let me take it so I could cut off the tags, but wouldn't let Angel have it.  Didn’t growl, just kept it out of her reach.

Later, Bogie was resting after a vigorous game of Fetch with the blue dragon. Angel picked up the Nylabone. I thought, cool, at least someone is interested in the hard toys.

No. She presented it to Bogie.  Who took it, then set it back down between his paws.

I had put a bunch of the filthy, old, stuffed dogs toys into the washer.  I took them from the washer to put into the dryer.  Bogie put his head in the dryer to see what I was doing.  I shooed him back.  Put another handful into the dryer.  As I turned to the washer to get the last few toys, Bogie put his head in the dryer, grabbed a damp toy, and ran off to the family room.

Bedtime.  Bogie got up, went downstairs, and got the blue dragon and brought it back to bed with him.  I was drifting off to sleep when I heard it squeak.  Startled the heck out of me.  But only one more squeak before I fell asleep.

The next morning, Bogie carried the blue dragon downstairs with him.  When Bogie finished his breakfast, instead of lurking over Angel waiting for leftovers, he got the blue dragon and we played fetch a few times.

All day, Bogie wandered around with the blue dragon in his mouth. He brought it over to me while I was trying to eat breakfast, and again at lunch time,  so I would throw it.

 Car ride to get groceries. I bought non-perishable items to take to work. I put the bag on the bookshelf next to my purse.  Bogie generally restricts himself to taking dog stuff, so I wondered if he would leave the bag alone.

I was upstairs on the computer when I heard a rustle and a small crash.  Went downstairs and sure enough, Bogie had pulled the grocery bag of tuna and cookies off the shelf.

No guilty looks here.  He just grinned as if to say, it was heavier than I expected.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Side by Side

Bogie laid down first.  Angel went over to lay next to him.  She has quickly become very attached to him.

The tiles are one foot square, so you can get an idea of the size of the dogs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Signs and omens

I believe in signs and omens.  If I have a decision to make, I will pose a question to the universe and get its opinion.

It can be something as trivial as which road to take home.  I tell myself, if the next 3 cars go straight, I will turn.  And I feel that I must turn if the conditions are met.  What's the point of asking for signs if you don't heed them?

I was contemplating a new vacuum, deciding whether to get one if I got a year-end bonus.  I was offered an interest free loan and a good price for the vacuum.  I took that as a sign I should get it.  I've been thrilled with my Dyson ever since.

Saturday, I felt pretty crappy, but was supposed to meet a friend at the gym for two hours of classes followed by lunch.  I was wavering when I heard the text message alert on my phone.  I figured it was my friend.

I told myself that if she had to cancel lunch, I was staying home.  If not, I was going.  Well, she wasn't cancelling, so I went to the gym, worked out hard, and felt better by the time we went to lunch.

Most of the time I have no way of knowing whether the decision I made was the correct one or not.  There is not way to tell if the commute home would have been better or worse via the alternate route.  That's true whether or not you believe in signs.

Mumbo jumbo?  Maybe.  Still, I feel better watching for signs.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The vet, encouraging bad behavior in Bogie.

We were at the vet for a followup visit when Bogie stood up on the counter.  The vet thought he looked so cool that she wanted a picture and encouraged him to do it again.  Fortunately, he's smart enough to know that it's still not acceptable at home.

Thanks to Dr.Jill Patt at Alta Mesa Animal Hospital for the photo.  AltaMesaAnimalHospital

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How do I ease rescue dog anxiety?

Both of my dogs are rescues.  I know some of Angel's back story, but very little of Bogie's back story.

So it's hard to know what will trigger their anxiety.  Bogie is accepting of me going to work, a little less enthused when I leave for the gym.  But he was frantic when I returned from a rare late evening out with friends.

Did he think I wasn't returning?  What was it about this absence that made him anxious?

Bogie was found on the street.  Did he escape?  He was a bit of a runner when I got him.  Did his people just walk out on him one day?  Did his beloved owner leave for the hospital and never return?  That could explain his anxiety.  

But I suspect his home life wasn't that idyllic.  What responsible owner gets a Great Dane and doesn't train him as a puppy?  It's much easier to train a Dane at 6 months than at 16 months.   When I got him he didn't know the simplest commands, Sit, Stay, Heel.  Was he a resident in a puppy mill, kept for his breeding capabilities, with no interest in educating him?

Without knowing what causes him stress, I am hit or miss at dealing with it.  He's smart and intuitive. So I explain that I must go to work or there will be no kibble.  That I will be back in a while.  And that seems to reassure him.  Whenever I leave, I make a point of reminding him I will be back.

On the other hand, Angel is pretty blase whenever I go away from home -  as long as she has another canine companion.  She must have other dogs around her to be content.   The one time I took Bogie to the vet without her, Angel was frantic when we returned.

Does she remember when Rags and Peanut didn't come back with me?  Does she fear that will happen again?

Fortunately, the vets we see are used to companion dogs tagging along on visits.  So Angel's anxiety is easily allayed.  I wish Bogie's was as easy to diagnose.

Each dog I've rescued over the years has had its own personality, fears, and traumas.  Unfortunately, they can't share those fears in a way we can understand.

It's my job to figure it out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life with Bogie is never dull

It's hard to believe I have only had Bogie for 10 1/2 weeks.  It has been an adventure.  Until now, I believed the Marmaduke cartoon was an exaggeration, a fiction.  Now I know otherwise.

There have been 10 trips to various vets,  2 escapes from the car at grocery stores, 1 frantic chase through the neighborhood.  He has taken cornbread and dog treat canisters off the counter, and an empty canister from the sink and carefully carried them outside through the doggy door.

I've cleaned muddy footprints off tile, carpet, and couch, and filled in holes dug in the rocks by the storage shed. My patch of grass now has strategically placed pavers covering ankle threatening holes.

He loves wrestling with Angel and is an enthusiastic fetcher, sometimes doing a hip slide across the tile when he tries to stop.  He chases the pigeons away from the bird feeders, which is good.  He also tries to catch the hummingbirds in flight, which would be bad, but he can't catch them. He is sweet and affectionate, loving to lean on people and be petted.

I've learned that at 15-months-old, he was never taught basic commands. He is a quick learner, but can be stubborn.  The most effective discipline for misdeeds is to shun him.  He hates being ignored.

On our walk yesterday, Bogie saw a cat hiding behind a organ pipe cactus and flushed it out. The cat ran across the street with Bogie in hot pursuit, ignoring my pleas to Stop - until he hit the end of the gentle leader. I had braced myself for the jerk on the leash when he hit the end.  But I didn't expect him to do a flip onto his side onto the concrete.  It reminded me of a skateboarder's wipe-out.

I felt horrible.  But he made no sound at all.  He picked himself up, trotted back to my side and sat down next to me to be petted.

It wasn't until 30 minutes after we got home that I realized he had several cactus spines in his shoulder and hip and scrapes on his knees. He very patiently let me remove the spines. When I removed one, blood started dripping onto the tile. I staunched the bleeding with a tissue.  He never once fidgeted or moved.  Well, except to look at the blood on the floor.

Life with Bogie - never dull, full of love.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bogie's got mad skillz

Because Bogie was sick, I was home from work the three days before the Labor Day holiday.  Bogie is a people dog.  He likes to have me around.  So he didn't appreciate it when I had to go into work on Tuesday. He tried to guilt me into staying home. However, when I came home from work, everything was fine.

I petted both dogs - a lot. Then I left for the gym.

I walked in the door from the garage to the house and wondered why there were 4 small rawhide bones in a pile on the floor by the doggy door.  I looked over at the counter and the canister was missing.   Yes, I know we had a previous incident.  But he had been unable to open a similar canister.  So I thought it was safe to leave this one on the counter where is was easier to access.

However, the loose rawhides meant the canister was either broken or opened.

Sure enough, Bogie had taken the canister outside and removed the lid.  It was a flip top lid, not a screw top.  Not only did he remove it, but he removed it in such a way that the lid could be reattached with no problem.  Bogie is smart, too smart.

While Angel and Bogie watched, I found 4 or 5 more rawhides untouched in the grass.  I put those back into the container.  I had recently filled the canister so I figure they ate at least 20 of them.  Thankfully, they were the small Dingo rawhides.

I must say I've never seen Angel look so happy. She was grinning all night, thrilled once again to be the recipient of Bogie's cunning.  Or high on rawhide.

Bogie seemed concerned about my reaction.  Shunning him has been an effective training method when he misbehaves.  So he kept his distance from me until I said, I'm not mad at you. Then he came over to be loved up and petted.

How could I be mad?  I knew he was smart.  I knew he would take things off the counter.  I misjudged his ability to puzzle out solutions.

The canister is now on top of the refrigerator.  If he can get it down from there, he deserves the contents.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I've been engrossed in the Doctor Who marathon on BBC America since yesterday morning.  To the detriment of my chores, the marathon continues today until the new season premiere this evening.  It's fortunate that I agreed to meet a friend at the gym this morning or I would be parked on the couch all day again.

Don't get me wrong.  I got some of my chores done yesterday and will probably do some today.  But Doctor Who was on the television the whole time.  I kept running back to the set to watch particularly favorite scenes.  Unless the entire episode was a favorite.  Then the chores were put on hold.

I'm not sure I qualify as a Whovian.  I can't quote the dialog.  I don't do the cosplay.  But I never miss an episode and I bought several of the books to tide me over until the new season starts.

What is it about Doctor Who that is so appealing?  The adventure, of course.  But also the way the Doctor helps wherever he goes.  Naturally, not everyone is helped.  The evil and misguided are punished or destroyed.  But he helps so many people, even to the point of getting Craig and Sophie together as a couple.

Would I go with him if he asked?  In a heartbeat.  Or would I?   Being able to see new worlds, new times would be amazing.  I like to think that at least part of what the show describes would be real, if we ever make it into space.  The world that is a library. Beings of every shape and size.

But Doctor Who's universe isn't a safe, cozy world.  The life of a companion is dangerous and scary at times. And there is the inevitable time when the companion has to return to the "real" world.  As Rose asked, How do you get a job in a shop when you've seen the end of the universe?  Worse yet, poor Donna, who will never even know she was a Companion.  I think Amy has it best, the adventure and Rory, the love of her life.

Still, I think I would go.  If I could bring my dogs.  I wouldn't abandon my dogs, even for the Doctor.

Surely the Tardis has a grassy park hidden inside?