Day One of 2016: Dogs and The Moment

Today is the first day of a new year. Usually I find it to be a reflective time, a time to look back and assess and look forward and plan. But I was so immersed in today that I didn’t really look forward or back.

Doggie Day

katara rescue dog

It was mostly a day filled with dogs. I’ve got my own pup now, Katara, and I’m watching Golden Retriever Lucy for a few days. Between the two of them, that’s more than 150 pounds of dog, dogs that are usually used to having my undivided attention, so it required a lot of focus and energy, but it was also pure joy.

katara rescue dog

Katara really just gives me so happiness. I love watching her play. I love watching her enjoy life. I love watching her try new things and explore her world and learn what it’s like to be in a loving, safe environment. She came from such a tough beginning and she’s doing so amazing now even though she’s only been with me a short time. I’m sure it helps that we’re basically together 24 hours per day and she’s come to know that she can trust me.

I took her to the park first, where she was able to play off-leash with another pup. They were well-matched in size and play style (a rough body-slamming kind of style) and had so much fun. She has this ridiculous horse-ish gait that just looks so amusing when she plays. Cracks me up.

golden retriever lucy

Then we picked up Lucy and met up with my beaux and all went to a different park together. I’d forgotten Lucy’s ball and she was so irritated with me because all she wants to  do is play ball. Luckily we found one for her at the park and all was okay :)

Later the two dogs and I went back to the first park and had more play. It’s odd how that can end up taking up so much of the day, but by the time you get there and back and play and do that two or three times, the day has been filled!

And Other Things

When we came home from the park the first time, I went back out and ran some errands. I bought some hair dye. I’ve been dyeing my hair for more than fifteen years, and I rarely see my natural color. I hadn’t dyed it in quite awhile and actually see my regular color now. It’s fine, but it’s not what I love, so I got some more dye to make it more what I’m used to after all these years! I didn’t actually get to the dyeing part yet but the box is here and ready to go :)

I picked up a burrito. Okay, two burritos. And let me tell you, no one my size should eat two burritos in one day. I’d gotten the second one in case my beaux wanted something but he didn’t. So I had the first one for brunch and the second one for dinner. And that’s not an exorbitant amount of food but burritos are heavy and it’s definitely more than I usually eat. I have this theory (that I probably picked up somewhere along the way) that you tend to look like the food you eat. People who mostly eat celery look fit and lean. People who mostly eat meat tend to look like meat. And let me tell you that right now I feel like I look like a lumpy overstuffed burrito. Not in a hating-myself kind of way or a self-critical kind of way; just in a tummy-feels-like-it-should-be-in-pajamas-not-jeans kind of way. I have a bunch of farm food so hopefully tomorrow I’ll have the energy to actually prepare some of it!

furniture pet bed

Furniture Pet Bed

I did a few things online today. I have a lot of work and writing I want to get to but I probably won’t do much of it until I return Pup #2 on Monday. In the meantime, I caught up on some emails and social media. I also ordered a bed for my pup; an adorable pup bed that looks like her own couch. It was a complete splurge (although it was bought with a gift certificate my bro generously gave me for Christmas) but I couldn’t resist. It looks cute and will be a better place for her to sleep than my bed but still luxurious; and it looks a lot better in my home than a bunch of blankets on the floor, which is what she’s currently using.

word of the day

Finally, I really enjoyed sharing with others about my Word of the Year, particularly as it applies to crochet. The word is heartbeat, which just means so many different things to me, in life and in crafting. It relates specifically to my creativity work and my new book, Hook to Heal (which received an amazing first Amazon review). I posted this on Instagram as my first #crochetquestionoftheday for 2016 and received some really amazing comments about other people’s words and intentions for the new year. It gave me a lot of great feeling to look over those and connect with my creative community in this way.

crochet365

I also decided to join in on #crochet365, which is a daily photo challenge. It’s actually the first one I’ve participated in, which is odd because I’ve seen and promoted so many of them over the years. Who knows if I’ll end up posting every day but I think it’s a great thing to aim for and it will hopefully inspire me to take more unique pictures from what I typically take; it’s always good to break out of a rut in small, easy ways.

Overall, it was a good day. Tired but in a good way, happy, and mostly present in the moment. I didn’t do any reading today, although I’d like to and might do some before bed. I watched a little TV (caught up on Project Runway Jr. and watched some Drugs Inc.) I texted with my family, missing all of them so much since we all parted after Christmas. Good things. All good things.

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8 Other Pets I’ve Watched Recently

I’ve been sharing a lot of photos recently of Lucy, the Golden Retriever puppy that I watch regularly. But she’s not the only pet I’ve watched lately. Here are some of the others:

Jeanette’s Animals

One of my favorite houses to stay it is Jeanette’s house, a friend of mine who has two dogs, two cats and a bird. Here they are:

Gillead

She’s one of my favorite animals that I know right now, in part because she reminds me a lot of my dog Fuzzy that I lost last year.

gillead dog

gillead pup

gillead dog

Coltrane

He has the cutest face and the funniest little personality!

coltrane puggle Continue reading

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New Four Legged Friends and Nostalgia

My bro with his dog, my sister with Rusty and my mom back there with Fuzzy who is trying to keep up in her older age

Yesterday I went out to a beautiful house by the ocean that is filled with life in many forms. My purpose there? To meet a family of six: four four-legged friends, a winged family member and a two-legged individual. I’ll be doing some petsitting for them and wanted to meet everyone and make sure that it would be a good match. It absolutely was. I already feel like I fit in with the family, a second caretaker to help out as needed but also a new friend. I’m sure there were many reasons that it was the right match but what really resonated with me was the uncanny resemblance that the two dogs of the family bear to the two dogs that I left behind when I moved here to the city 6 years ago.

First, why I petsit

Rusty, my Little Man

I’ve probably mentioned here a few times that I petsit on occasion. (I know that on my crochet blog I’ve shared photos of Betty, the cockapoo I watch, when I’ve crocheted clothing for her during my stays at her house.) I petsit in part for extra cash but that’s not the main reason that I do it. The real reason is because I really miss having pets in my life. I grew up in a family that always had more than one furry friend in the house at a time. I carried on that tradition myself when I moved out of my parents’ home, taking our young puppy Fuzzy and a newborn pup Rusty to my new home across town.

When I moved to San Francisco, there was just no way that I could bring them along. They were used to having huge yards with lots of space to roam. It wouldn’t have been fair to put them into an apartment even if I could find an apartment that would take me, my roommate and the two dogs and still be affordable for me as a young freelancer. So they stayed behind with Mom and Dad and I visit a few times a year.

Fuzzy with her “I didn’t do anything” look

Moving here was the first time that I didn’t have pets to care for. It was sad and lonely in some ways and really liberating in other ways. I hadn’t realized how much care and attention pets need until I didn’t have them anymore. It provided a great opportunity to really focus on myself and my needs and that has been beneficial. Now that I’ve done that for awhile, I’d like the responsibility of a pet again. (What I really want is a Shiba Inu puppy, after having fallen in love with one my brother was petsitting a few years ago.) But the apartment I am in (which I love for many reasons) doesn’t allow pets so that’s going to have to wait until I move again.

And that’s why I petsit. I get to enjoy the joy and responsibility and companionship of a few good furry friends again. And having learned how much of a responsibility a pet is, I am also happy that I am able to give someone else the chance to get away and focus on themselves now and then while knowing that their pets are in good hands.

Now, about Rusty and Fuzzy

We had a lot of dogs in my childhood, including Playful who was our wonderful Australian Shepherd that we had for the entirety of my childhood. But Rusty and Fuzzy were special because they were mine, not the family’s. I didn’t realize until I had them what unique personalities pets have and what an interesting dynamic can develop between two pets in the same family. There had always been the five of us humans in the house plus a couple of dogs and some cats and some other creatures and I was a kid the entire time so I didn’t really see any relationships that might have developed. The dogs were our friends, but I didn’t really think about their personalities much. Rusty and Fuzzy changed that, in part because I was alone with the two of them and in part because they had such intense, defined, curious personalities.

Fuzzy as a puppy

Fuzzy was my smart dog (despite her silly name which I have to blame on being young when we named her). She’s a big black lab/ chow mix with cute white paws and an intelligence that was usually fascinating and sometimes annoying. Annoying like the time when I realized that the reason Rusty was so skinny was because Fuzzy had figured out how to drag his dish and hers to the same spot and surround them both with her arms so that he couldn’t eat. Annoying like the long period of time when I kept trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with her leg only to eventually realize that she was faking a limp to get sympathy and special treatment. I kid you not. She even did something similar recently, at fifteen years of age. My mom and sister took the family’s other dog for a walk and Fuzzy isn’t in any shape to go anymore so she moped around the house while they got ready, acting bedraggled and huffing and puffing and on the verge of death. Then while they were gone she managed to sneak into my sister’s backpack and steal some food that she found in there, happily munching away at it with no breathing problems in sight when they returned. That’s my dog.

Rusty as a puppy

Rusty was my little cutie pie. He was adorable and lovable and fun. As he grew older, I called him my Little Man, because he got this regal older man look and yet somehow retained this little puppy attitude at the same time. I loved Rusty but there’s no nice way of putting it … he was dumb. Dopey is the word I usually use because he had these huge paws that he never quite grew into so he was a bit gangly. But not the brightest crayon in the box. Fuzzy would always figure out how to do things and he would always follow along after her, often not in the smartest way. Like how Fuzzy learned how to hook her paw’s nail into the screen door and open it so that she could come in and out from the front yard and Rusty eventually, after a long time, figured out that he could also get in that way but only by running full force into the door and butting it with his hard head so that it would spring open and he could dash in before it closed again. Ah, Rusty. It was a good thing, sometimes, that he was as dumb as he was. That dog could jump higher than any circus dog and if he had been any brighter then he might have figured out that if he moved up and over, instead of just up, he could easily jump the small fence that kept them in the yard. Luckily, he was never quite bright enough to get that idea and Fuzzy’s hip problems meant that she couldn’t do it to show him.

Oh Rusty. All of our girl dogs were spayed but Rusty was never neutered. He was forever trying to get into Fuzzy’s pants and she never let him. So he was super excited in his old age when my brother’s two girl dogs moved in for awhile. He immediately began trying to get some action. Sadly, my wonderful dumb little dog, did not know that the girl’s head is not what he was supposed to be aiming for.

The dynamic between them was always fun to see. Rusty brought out the fun side of Fuzzy. I don’t think that she would have been nearly so playful if it had just been me and her that moved out together, especially as she got older and the pain in her body got worse. But Rusty endlessly demanded that she play with him. And she did, until she’d get tired of his antics and warn him away and he’d get that “aw shucks” look and wander off until it was time to persistently return to get her attention again.

Rusty died last year, suddenly, without warning. I was shocked. Although in a way I’m kind of happy for him because if there’s any good way to go then it’s running around happily to the very moment when you suddenly aren’t anymore. I’ve been surprised that Fuzzy hasn’t succumbed to the same fate. As they got older, I always wondered how one would live without the other. She’s hanging in there, doing her own thing.

Old Memories, New Dogs

From the scrapbook: Fuzzy half-shaved after a surgery and Rusty ready to play

I think about Rusty and Fuzzy every now and then but I hadn’t thought about them this deeply until yesterday when I met these new dogs. They aren’t quite the same breed, but they are so similar to Rusty and Fuzzy in so many ways. The girl is a larger, black dog with white paws (like Fuzzy has) and hip problems (like Fuzzy has) and a loving face (like Fuzzy) and a smart mind (like Fuzzy). The boy is a smaller brown dog (like Rusty) with an adorable face that is half pup/ half old man (like Rusty) and this great lap dog attitude (like Rusty) but maybe not the smartest cupcake in the batch (aw, like Rusty). The boy could probably run and play endlessly but is held back a little bit by the girl’s handicaps; the girl benefits from pushing herself a little bit to keep up with the boy and get extra joy out of life.

Of course, there are differences between these dogs and my dogs, since each pet is unique and each set of animal dynamics is unique. Rusty was always my jealous dog. For all thirteen years of his life I couldn’t have a single moment with Fuzzy without Rusty coming in and sticking his nose in my face and his paw on my hand. I’ve only just met these new dogs so it’s hard to tell but I think if either of the two is jealous in this pair it’s the girl and it’s more because she sees the boy as “her baby” than because she needs the human attention desperately herself.

Fuzzy hogging a huge bone, circa 1999

And I’m sure that they have little quirks of their own that I’ll see as time goes on that are different from my dogs’ little quirks. Like how most people wouldn’t know that Fuzzy, my huge independent dog who rarely wanted me for much, would cower right on top of me in bed anytime there was a thunderstorm. It didn’t matter how old she got, how many storms she’d seen or how large of a space there was on the bed … she would run in, dig her way under the blanket and be right up on top of me until the storm ended. Recently we realized that her hearing is really going because there was a storm in Tucson and she didn’t notice.

As a petsitter, I obviously won’t know nearly as much about these new pets as I knew about mine living with them day in and day out. But I can tell that they have these wonderful personalities and it will be so fun to learn more about them and watch them grow and get to be a small part of their lives. I look forward to it all.

(And by the way, the family also has a beautiful bird and two gorgeous cats. I won’t go into all that right now but let me say that I’ve never met a Burmese cat before and I am now sold on the idea that if I ever get a cat again it’s going to be a Burmese! Oh and the human in their family is wonderful and warm, too.)

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Photo of the Day: The Dogs

This is a photo that I took the last time that I was back home. The dog on the left is one of my two dogs that stayed behind with my parents when I moved from Arizona. The other is my brother’s dog that ended up living with them when he moved. As you can see, they’ve taken over the house.

I always get green eyes from the dogs (like this) when I take pictures of them. Is there any way to avoid that? I know I can fix it with a photo editor but I’m wondering if I can stop it from happening all together.

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