Friday, June 2, 2017

Life

I was hot, sweat trickled a streak of grime along the crevices of my wattle and pooled in the hollow below my collar bones.

I stripped down to my undershirt and sank into my chair. My daughter, Clare, and her daughter, Hazel, joined me in the family room. The baby slid to the floor, walked hand over hand along the couch and over to my chair. I picked her up and she snuggled in for a hug. She stopped, mid-snug, sat up straight and looked at me with deep admiration.

"What's up with you, baby girl?" I asked.

Hazel leaned in and grabbed my boob. "Oooooh," she said.

"What the hell is she doing?" I asked.

"I think she just realized Grandma has boobs," Clare said. She snorted back a laugh.

Hazel looked at her mom and let out a string of baby babble, held my boob with one hand and pointed at it with the other. The kid didn't need words, there was no doubt about what she said. Her life evolved around her mom's boobs, now, here came Grandma, fully equipped.

Hazel cupped, poked, pinched, laughed, and chatted my boob up. She looked at me like I was Super Grandma. My daughter quit trying not to laugh and just let 'er rip. Hazel leaned in and snuggled my boobs, mashed them together and bounced them around. I have to admit, I laughed too.

"They're not going to do you any good, kiddo." I said. Then I put my shirt back on. Gotta admit, I was a little creeped out.  I haven't been felt up like that since I was 25.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Service Dog People II

  

Charlie has been wearing the exact same look for the last four years.



The placement counselor at the Humane Society was right. I had a lot of dog on my hands. Now known as Brockle, my new boy was a whirling dervish. He would sprint the length and back of the off-leash area in Garden of the Gods seven, eight, a dozen times before I finished half of the two-mile loop. He tormented the other dogs non-stop. He didn't bite, but he yipped and bullied. Charlie, my good old blue-collar rat terrier, was horrified.
  
In the house, he paced an endless loop, checked every window, made sure I was where he left me, cruised the backyard and started again. I'm pretty sure I know why he was returned by his third family after barely 12 hours.  Brockle spent his first evening in our home repeatedly trying to hump every single human in it. We explained to him pretty damn quick how we felt about being humped and it was the last time the subject came up. He ate nothing, but dribbled diarrhea everywhere for days. 

He latched onto me with everything he had. I couldn't shift my weight in a chair without having his hot nose poking me to see what was up. He walked with his muzzle against my leg, everywhere. He searched my face and looked deep into my eyes every chance he got. I timed him one day. We made intense eye contact 30 times in five minutes. I couldn't blame him. He had been dumped three times before he turned a year. Separation anxiety much?

Then there was the bad stuff. He went nuts in the car, barking and snarling at every dog he saw. Our first walk on-leash ended up with me laid out on the ground, where I rolled up the leash until I pinned  him and stopped him from tearing the head off a passing dog. The same thing happened on our second walk and the third.

My close friend, Susie, came over to meet the new dog. She came in the front door, unannounced as usual, her sweet Lab, Mandy, at her heels. Brockle threw himself at the new dog with a roar. I ran up and pulled him off poor Mandy and he air-snapped, just missing my face. It was time to ask for help.

I made an appointment with a trainer, Jim Beinlich, whose regular column I read in our local newspaper. His posts were intelligent, well-written and made sense to me. I explained my situation.

   "Do you think you're in danger?"  

   A great first question if you ask me.
  
   "I don't," I said. "I may not understand him, but he's not attacking for fun. He hasn't threatened any family member, human or animal, since we brought him home. There's a good dog in there, but I don't have a clue how to coax it out."

Jim specialized in protection obedience  and scent work. He wasn't cheap. It was going go be tough to find the dough, but curiosity and my gut told me Brockle was worth the investment. We arranged a first lesson later in the week and I put down my worry. Part of the reason I  wanted another dog was I desperately needed a project that didn't involve illness, bills and sadness. Brockle soon proved himself worth every dime spent on lessons and then some.

Parkinson's Disease messed with me constantly. One of the biggies was chronic insomnia. I've never been much of a sleeper, but now it was crazy. Being my S.O.'s sole caretaker wasn't helping much. His stroke had left him a very different man, frightened and seeing terrible things in every shadow. I still blame my decision to adopt Brockle on chronic sleep deprivation.

One murky 2:00 a.m. I wandered down the hall for the hundredth time. This time, I crashed. It was the first episode of many, I still deal with it today. I felt dizzy, barely had time to think, Uh Oh, before I did a face-plant and passed out. The P.D. seemed to have squashed the ability to save myself in a fall.

I oozed into consciousness snorting a nose full of dog hair. As a matter of fact, I was pretty much blanketed in dog. A big, pointy nose snuffled my dog-slobbered face. Brockle had pressed his entire length against me as I lay unconscious on the floor. I struggled to sit up and he let me lean into him when the room began to spin. We sat on the floor with our foreheads pressed together. He stayed quiet and still until I felt strong enough to get on my feet.

Then he went outside and jumped poor Charlie.







Friday, May 26, 2017

Service Dog People

Some of you know Brockle.



He's the amazing dog who came into my life at a time I needed him most.

He's also an absolute shit, but I digress.

I'll give a quick background for those who don't know him, a little bit of where we're at now and then get on with my point.

I found Brockle at our local Humane Society. We visited, we clicked, and I said I wanted him. Before I could adopt, there needed to be a meeting with the animal placement counselor. I was surprised, our animal shelter is pretty matter of fact. If you like the dog, you meet the dog, if you like each other, paperwork is filled out, money paid and off you go.

It turned out my future dog was a three time loser. He had come into the pound as a three-month-old stray. He was adopted out to a young couple who moved to California. They split up and she returned with nine-month-old Brockle. She needed two jobs to afford her crappy apartment with a 10'x12' community "dog park." Within a month Brockle snapped, blew up his kennel, CHEWED THROUGH THE APARTMENT WALL AND INTO THE COMPLEX HALL. This was after he ate her couch.
He ended up back where he started, at the Humane Society.

At ten months a family adopted him. They had a yard, rough and tumble kids and everybody just loved him.His paperwork was done at closing and they all skipped off into the sunset. The father of the happy family was waiting at the Humane Society door, first thing in the next morning, dog in hand.

"We don't have a lot on what exactly happened," the animal placement counselor said. She riffled through her notes.
"Hmmm...'he's a horrible dog, why didn't anybody warn us....this dog should be destroyed...he's lucky I didn't shoot him myself'...he didn't give any specifics."

The counselor had more to share. The large, bony, hairy dog was well-liked by the staff, and it was decided he could do a stint at Camp Woof-Woof. The camp was a business who donated training for pound dogs. They got socialization, basic obedience, manners and specific problems like leash aggression, guarding behavior etc. addressed. Dogs that should be great, but are just missing the mark, are sent for a little re-hab. He failed the program at Camp Woof-woof.

"What part?" I asked.

"All of it. Everything. He wreaked so much havoc they sent him back."

I sat back and studied the counselor. I was sick, swollen, old, and one-armed. Clearly, she was studying me too. I thought about the dog. When he was first brought to our meet n' greet, he paced, to the window, to my daughter, to the bubbly volunteer and back to the window again. He would brush against my knees as he passed. I waited. He paced. When he finally settled, he laid across my feet with a sigh and his back pressed against my shins. We spent a quiet five minutes and I knew we'd work out.

"I think we'll be fine," I said. I'm an avid walker. I'm not inexperienced with dogs and although I'm not a dog trainer, I am a retired horse trainer."

"Do you think your training background will be enough?"

"I'm not trying to come off as a know-it-all," I replied. "Being a horse trainer just means I'm smart enough to get professional help if we need it. I've never given up on a dog before and I won't start now."

We filled out paperwork, I wrote a check and took my new dog home.

Well, soo-prize soo-prize, look at that. I got all long winded and will have to come back to my original point next time.
Later gators.









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