PEE ZONES

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It used to be that my favorite part of my daily walks involved leaving my mark on all the important places in the neighborhood–that bush at the edge of our lawn, a big rock at the entrance to a house around the corner, newly wet weeds and grass. Hey, you other dogs, Foxy’s here! Not so much anymore. Nowadays I am happy to be able to let it all go when the urge strikes, which is usually as soon as I get outside.

Several times a day, Ellie picks me up, carries me down the steps, puts me on the grass in the back yard and says, “Go pee.” If I was sleeping when she picked me up, it takes me a while to get with it, but I know what she wants and it usually sounds like a good idea. So I yawn a couple of times and then here you go, let me make your day. Other times she puts the leash on me and carries me down the front steps so we can take our walk. We take a short cut across the front lawn to the sidewalk.

I usually pee as soon as I get to our lawn.  Now it’s mostly dirt along that path. Not long ago, I saw Ellie  scattering something over the bare ground, covering it with some dirt from a bag, then sprinkling it with the watering can.

I like to walk on the soft grass in front of most houses we pass, so sometimes I wait to pee at one of those, often without even sniffing to see if someone else has marked a juicy spot.  One day we were rounding a corner and I was on the grass  doing my thing when a man came out the front door and said something unkind to Ellie. I didn’t get the words, but she answered him in a downcast way. I’m not sure what that was about, but since then, she usually pulls me off the grass of that yard.

Not so today. We were doing our usual walk and I was enjoying the release of letting it all go on that lawn–ahh, I love my walks–when I heard the sound of the house’s garage door starting. Ellie jumped and pulled me, mid-pee, onto the sidewalk, leaving me quite unsatisfied and dribbling all over myself and the sidewalk. She scooted me down the walkway to the corner. I saw her turn to look back at that house and then she hurried me around the corner. Humans are such a mystery!

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Foxy’s Wild Ride

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The ride to the beach wasn’t that bad. I fell asleep and then suddenly we were there at a house on top of a hill. The wind was big and cold. Ellie brought me into a strange house, lights and music everywhere. We walked around and checked out the rooms. Even with my fur coat, it was cold in there. I saw some steps going down a dark passage, but we didn’t go that way. I heard Ellie mumble about “wood” and “go to the store.” She packed me back in the car and we drove a short distance to a parking lot.

Ellie left me in the car but returned after a little while with groceries and a big bundle  that smelled like trees. We drove up the hill to the house and she brought me inside. Then she went back out and closed the door. I heard her grumble and push on the door from the outside, but who could figure humans, so I wandered around and found a rug to curl up on to try and keep warm.

Ellie was gone for a while, but there’s nothing unusual about that. I smelled someone else in the house and a strange man came up the steps from the cavern below. He stomped around while I hid in the room with the bed. Then the front door opened and I heard Ellie.

“Thanks for coming to let me in,” she said.

“The slider was wide open,” the guy said loudly to Ellie. It sounded like a scold–no treat for you, lady.

She answered, “Hey, I didn’t open it! Did you see the dog?”

“I didn’t see any dog,” he said. I saw Ellie run in, panic all over her face until she saw me. “Are you OK, boy?” she asked. All I could think was, I’m fine but could you warm this place up and give me my dinner?

Ellie made a fire in the stove in the main room and it got a little warmer. We had dinner and then she took me for a walk outside. The cold wind was blowing like crazy and I kept falling down the hill. I couldn’t see the ground in front of my nose. She kept picking me up and carrying me like a baby back up the hill. Yuck. I was glad to return to the house and find my bed.

The next day she moaned and groaned while she packed up the car and we were off to another house not too far away. This house was nice and warm inside and there was a glass door in the bedroom so I could watch the grass and the wind and the ocean from my bed. I even got to see some big four legged creatures with stand-up ears like mine. We stayed at this house for a few days, only going out for my walks, which were pretty easy in the daytime, because the ground was flat. At night it was still really dark and hard to see where I was going, but it was less windy than up on the hill.

Ellie spent all her time, when she wasn’t cooking, sitting at the table in the big room and clicking the keys of her writing machines. She seemed to enjoy herself. I had a lot of nice naps in between my meals, walks, and wandering around the house.

When it was time to go, Ellie put everything in the car and took me for one last walk. Then I was in the car too, in the back seat as usual, but I felt trapped. I couldn’t just sit there, so I jumped to the front seat next to Ellie. I missed the seat and landed on the floor, where she had put some coats and a box of tissues. I climbed back up on the seat, but then needed to get out of there, so I jumped to the back. I did this a few more times, then thought I might try the part of the car where Ellie was sitting. She was talking to me in a calm voice this whole time, making her “shhhhh” noises. The world was rushing by outside the windows. So I jumped onto her lap. The car slowed  and suddenly stopped with a jerky motion. Ellie made grumpy noises, then picked me up and moved me back to the other front seat. I was panting happily, drooling all over.

The car started up again and I jumped to the back seat. I tried jumping onto her lap again, but she held up her arm when I was in the front seat, so I couldn’t get there. She stopped the car again and scolded me. “No, Foxy. That’s dangerous! No more car trips for you, buddy.”

By this time, I was pretty tired, so I curled up in the back and went to sleep. Soon we were back in Napa and I watched the unpacking. It was a relief to crawl into my bed in its familiar place. So much for vacation. I’m happier at home. I think Ellie is too.

NO MORE STAIRS

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I used to run up and down the stairs from the house to the yard every day without stopping to look at them, without feeling any pain. That’s not easy anymore. I still run up, but sometimes it takes me a while to gather my energy to leap. And going down the stairs? No, thanks. Especially at night, I can hardly see them. So Ellie picks me up before our walk and at bedtime and places me on the grass or the sidewalk. I struggle to escape when she picks me up. I’m a guy! I’m tough! Well maybe not so much anymore. But I still want to do it myself.

Ellie gives me treats in the backyard every day. It has something to do with a metal pathway with a scratchy surface. She puts it down on the grass and holds out a treat for me. Sure, I want the treat. (It’s a piece of some little hot dogs that come out of a tiny jar…why are they called hot dogs?) So I jump up to get the treat and land on the grass or on the metal thing or halfway on each. Usually the treat lands in the grass, since I can’t find it in her hand. Then I sniff for it in the dry grass while she waits. After a few tries, she gets at one end of the pathway with me at the other and beckons for me to come get the treat. Sometimes I run all the way down the metal to her and grab my treat. When that happens, she’s jumping up and down.

Before we’re done, Ellie moves the metal thing so one end is on the deck and the other is on the grass. She climbs up to the deck and asks me to come up the ramp for my treat. I have to think about it. Sometimes I’m feeling the breeze or a fly going by or I hear a noise behind me. Sometimes I walk up the ramp and she gets all excited. Then she tries to get me to walk down the ramp, but so far, that doesn’t appeal to me, no matter how many treats she has in her hand. You must think I’m nuts. I don’t want to be picked up, I don’t want to go down the ramp or the stairs, and I don’t want to pee on the floor. That’s just the way it is. TIme for a nap.

MULTI-TASKING MUTT

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You humans think you are so brilliant with your smart phones and computer games that you play while you’re watching TV. I can multi-task even better, without needing any store-bought devices to help me along.

Have you noticed how I analyze the grass with my sniffer while at the same time, to say it nicely, my other end is relieving itself of a burden? Multi-tasking! Or when we’re out for a walk how I can have my eyes glued on a dog approaching from way down the street while my feet are deftly stepping over rocks and branches all over the walkway?

See, I can listen, smell and look all at the same time, in case some wild animal is stalking me, or some smelly little squirrel is close enough for me to chase. Or someone has dropped a sausage in the path. Sausage, yum!  It may seem that I’m not listening to you when you try to call me away from my food bowl or a fight with my favorite toy. I can hear you–I’m just not interested. I may be a multi-tasker, but I still decide where to put my attention! Now where did I hide that biscuit?

DOGGIE DOLDRUMS

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Another visit to the doggie doctor. It was a long day, although I slept during most of it. Ellie dropped me off without breakfast (grrr)  and didn’t feed me much when we got home. Actually I didn’t feel like eating. My teeth kind of hurt; my whole mouth felt sore, like I’d been chewing on some huge bone for days and days. My claws were mysteriously shorter and there now seems to always be a breeze around my butt.

Sometimes it’s dark by the time Ellie takes me for my afternoon walk. I don’t mind this, but she stumbles along with her flashlight, holding her coat tight around her body. She’s been sneezing and coughing and going to bed right after my dinner, so maybe she’s not feeling so great either.

Today the ladies came who sweep the floor and push that noisy machine around. I spent some time on the deck and then wanted to see what Ellie was doing. I found her lying on the bed with that computer thing. She slapped the bed, like she thinks I can still jump up there. Are you kidding me?  Then she  got up and came at me with her hands out, like she wanted to pick me up. I wouldn’t mind a quick snuggle, but if I can’t get up there on my own, forget about it! Why don’t you come down here? I scooted under the bed, a better place to hide from the broom.

Once when Ellie wasn’t around those ladies let me out the door when they were leaving. I ran out to the street to see what was happening and the ladies started chasing me. I didn’t know what they wanted, so I headed down the block. They were screaming at me to come back. Hey, I’m on an adventure!  Then a neighbor lady with her dog came along and talked to them. They held her dog and she came slowly up to me talking very quietly.

“Is everything OK, Foxy? Poor boy, don’t be scared.”

It didn’t take long for her to get her hand on my collar and soon I was back in the house. Those ladies were smiling and wiping their faces like they’d been cleaning the house all day long.