Six blessings of my dog's senior status

Six blessings of my dog's senior status

Our dog is getting old. Depending on the chart used, Mickey — the pit-pointer we rescued at six weeks old — has reached senior status, hovering anywhere around 80 years old to 93 or so.

Mickey’s advanced age is obvious in myriad ways. The bold brown coloring on his face has gone gray, he has trouble on stairs, he sleeps much of the time, he rarely gets excited about even his once most favorite things … including squirrels needing his exuberant escorting out of the yard and …

Read More

My (uneventful) week in photos

I haven't done much of anything worth writing home about about on my blog this past week. Which, in all honesty, is okay with me. Sometimes busyness and booked calendars are highly overrated (not to mention exhausting).

Even with nothing much on the agenda, though, I did manage to take — and in one case, appropriate from my daughter's Facebook page — photos of the nothing much marking my days. Following are a few such markings from my past week.

bear yard art
A chainsaw-crafted set o' friendly bears a neighbor recently...

Read More

Some things just don't mix

I love my dogs. They're pampered as can be and have full run of the place. Until Bubby arrives, that is. Once Bubby gets to Gramma's and PawDad's things change. Not just because Bubby is the star of our hearts and deserving of all the attention we have to give, but mostly because — and I hate to admit this — we can't completely trust our dogs with our grandson.

Mickey and Lyla aren't dangerous dogs, they're just not used to little boys. They're not used to little boys running and squealing and laughing and racing trucks across the floor and tabletops and arms and head of anyone or anything nearby who will put up with it. It makes them nervous. Poor, previously abused Lyla in particular. She growls and snaps when she's scared ... which is more often than we'd like when Bubby's nearby.

Mickey is a little more laid back about the whole affair, but still one we must be sure Bubby gives a wide berth. Just in case. He's part pit bull and although we know better regarding the cussed-up reputation the generally-sweet-when-raised-correctly dogs have been unjustly given, we keep Bubby away from him. Not because he's a pit bull, but because he was a damaged puppy when we got him, with broken hind legs that he's now sensitive to and doesn't want anyone touching. He's snapped at me, he's snapped at Jim when we've gotten too close to his tender feet, and we don't want to take any chances with him snapping at Bubby who just might touch the tender spots by accident and set the snapping into motion. It would have nothing to do with the fact he's part pit bull, but to anyone else -- to everyone else -- our Mickey's breed would be the culprit, not his once smashed and broken feet he still feels the need to protect.

While Bubby's here, the dogs are constant cuss to deal with a challenge. Keeping Bubby away from the dogs is a challenge. We could banish Mickey and Lyla to the basement or outside, but they're our babies ... most of the time ... and we feel bad not letting them join us in visiting with beloved Bubby. So we allow them around, we stay on constant guard, Bubby gets too close to Mickey's legs or Lyla gets too possessive of me or a toy or her space and the cuss — and cussing — begins. Mostly between me and Jim, as we argue with one another about why we let the dogs in or why we need to just relax or why one of us is partial to one dog or the other and not being realistic about the situation. We alternate between worrying we're being too cautious or not being cautious enough. But you never know. And we don't want to take any chances with our precious Bubby.

So then Mickey and Lyla are banished outside or to the basement and we all feel bad about the incident. But we later try it again. With the same result.

Yes, I love my dogs. But truth be told, I'd rather them be the ones living long-distance and my Bubby being the one living nearby. Or, in an ideal world, if my Bubby lived nearby, visited more often and he and the dogs became used to one another, we wouldn't have this challenge to begin with. But things aren't ideal. So we deal the best we can.

Bottom line is this: Once Mickey and Lyla head off to the big dog park in the sky, we will never again own large dogs with difficult psychological issues. And we won't have two dogs, we'll have only one. One no larger than a Jack Russell terrier.

And the bottom bottom line? You won't see here any cute photos of Bubby playing with Lyla and Mickey. Because most of the time, it's not cute. And the rest of the time, Lyla and Mickey are banished from the fun. Because, unfortunately, some things just don't mix.

Today's question:

How do your animals behave around children?

Now I lay them down to sleep

Well, it's happened. Jim and I have become those people. You know, the ones whose animals take the place of their children once the children are grown and gone.

Sure, I have plenty of friends whose animals have always been their kids. Which has worked well for them. It's what they do. It's what they've done. It's their normal.

But it's not been our normal, my normal. Until recently. So it's a bit disconcerting.

We've always had animals, if not a dog or two, at least a cat or two. And in the last few months, I've come to realize that I now pay just as much attention to their eating, sleeping, pooping and entertainment schedules and options as I once did with my kids. Oh yeah, and bathing options, too.

This past weekend, Jim and I converted the shower in our downstairs bathroom to a DOG shower, with a fancy little hand-held shower head with an on/off button that makes it easy to wet down the kids dogs, pause the water, lather 'em up, then unpause and rinse. It was quite simple showering up the little ones on Saturday. So much easier -- on us and them -- than taking them to self-wash at Petco or Petsmart or to a groomer. Going forward, our spoiled little Mickey and Lyla will bathe in the comfort of their own home, the comfort of their own cussing bathroom.

Come to think of it, that's more than our daughters ever had. The girls shared a bathroom -- all three of them plus me -- until one by one they moved out. Yeah, our dogs are spoiled.

In return, they do for us something the girls never did: They go to bed each night without complaint. At their scheduled bedtime. Without a single delay tactic.

Each night at 10 p.m., Mickey and Lyla, who have been hanging out with us in the family room -- on their beds pulled from their bedroom (yes, the dogs have their own bedroom ... well, they share it) -- get up, stretch and head to the back door for a final drink of water and potty before bedtime. I open the door, they trot out to the back yard -- in the dark, mind you, with no begging, "Can you please turn on the light, Mom?" Then they do their business, head back to the patio for a final slurp of H20, then stand at the door, waiting for me to let them in.

Once I let them in is when the real fun begins. At least they think so. For some reason, Mickey and Lyla -- especially Lyla -- believe that bedtime is the most wondrous time of day, the reason for getting through the day, the reason for living. The second I slide open the glass door, they scurry through the family room, tails wagging like mad, past Jim and his "goodnight, guys" brush along their sides, and into their bedroom. They climb aboard their newly fluffed beds -- pulled from the family room and returned to the correct positions while they were out pottying. Then they circle a time or two and plop down in their little nests. I rub their heads, their necks; they nuzzle my hand. "Goodnight, kids. See ya in the morning," I tell them as I back out of their room.

Just like tucking in the kids. Only these kids don't request another sip of water or remind me that the tooth fairy is scheduled to visit in the night or remember at the very last second that they are going on a field trip the next day and need an extra-special packed lunch with a drink for the trip. Yep, the dogs are so much easier to put to bed than the girls were.

There is one part of the bedtime ritual that the girls did so much better, though, so much sweeter. That was the bedtime prayer. Brianna would come from her room to join me and the other two in Megan and Andie's room. We'd sit on the edge of their beds, fold our hands, bow our heads, ask for guidance through the night, then request "God bless Brianna and Megan and Andrea and Mommy and Daddy and everyone we love and care about. Amen." I miss that. The dogs don't do that.

I'm wondering how much work it might take to get Mickey and Lyla to fold their little paws in prayer each night.

I'll get back to you on that.

Today's question:

What time do you typically go to bed?

Gone to the dogs

The last week or so I've been yearning to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. I've not seen the holiday special in probably 15 years, maybe even closer to 20, as it's been that long since my little girls would hunker down in front of the television to watch the annual roundup of holiday goodness. Lately I've been missing that and figured it's high time to partake of the holiday goodness myself, even if I have to do it alone.

So over the weekend I popped in my Charlie Brown VHS (yes, VHS ... why upgrade kids' shows to DVD at the empty nest stage?) to watch on the TV in the study as I worked at my desk. And get this: Despite having no children or grandchildren around to watch such things with me, I certainly wasn't alone -- I was joined by my darling dogs, Mickey and Lyla.

Together we watched Charlie Brown lament the commercialism of Christmas, hanging on every note from Vince G., every Snoopy shuffle and every puff from Pig-Pen.

Since we had the time -- and the TV had their attention -- I decided to pop in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, too. It's been just about as many years since I've seen the Grinch special, I think, and I was sure Mickey and Lyla had never been to Whoville at all.

So we went there together. I enjoyed the sweetness of Cindy Lou Who while my canine companions relished the harrowing heroism of Max the Dog.

Thanks to Charlie's Snoopy and Grinch's Max, Mickey and Lyla were as intrigued by the shows as I was.* I'm not so sure they'd have been as amenable to watching holiday fare with me if the featured selection had been dogless dither such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town or Frosty the Snowman.

While visiting Bubby for Thanksgiving, I caught snippets of Santa Buddies with Bubby, and I've been thinking that's a holiday movie Mickey and Lyla would enjoy. So I'm watching for it to go on sale after Christmas. I figure since my one and only grandson lives 819 miles away and I must rely on my dogs to keep me company -- even when it comes to watching holiday shows -- I might as well include a doggy feature especially for them now and then. I understand there's a Santa Buddies sequel available, too, so if they're good, I'll go all out and make it a double feature.

I'll be buying both Santa Buddies movies on DVD, though, so we can watch them on our 54-incher in the family room instead of on the tiny tube in the study. My TV-watching buddies Mickey and Lyla will surely appreciate life-size holiday buddies on the big screen come Christmastime next year!

*Truth be told, the dogs slept through much of both shows. But it still was nice to have them hanging out with me while I watched the ol' holiday favorites.

Holiday question of the day:

Overall, would you say you've been more naughty or more nice this past year? Do your loved ones -- the ones playing Santa -- agree?

Searching for gold

Here in Colorado, the aspens put on a spectacular fall display -- if you catch them at the right time.

Last weekend Jim and I guessed the timing was right to catch the yellows, golds and coveted reds in the mountains not too far from home. So we packed up Mickey, Lyla and some sandwiches and headed for the hills.

Turns out we guessed wrong -- at least in terms of the aspens at the relatively low altitude we visited (9,000 feet). We've heard the aspens in the high country have turned, but what we saw on our outing were just bits of yellow here and there, with plenty of green still taking center stage. The best colors likely will be this coming weekend.

We still had a pleasant day, though, and managed to get some good photos ... even some of Mickey climbing up into my lap, which the 60-pound pit mix never does. Seems our big, bad dog doesn't get out of the city often enough, and the gravel and brambles were too much for his sensitive tootsies.

Here are the highlights of the day:

Today's question:

Where is your favorite place to view the changing colors of fall?

And I would walk 10,000 steps

(These are so not my legs.)So ... I bought a pedometer. I've had one before but I don't think it told me the truth. All I had to do was jiggle my hips a bit and it would try to flatter me with sky-high numbers.

My new pedometer doesn't lie to me, doesn't try to butter me up with untruths. And it has nifty options that tell me not only how many steps I've taken, but how those steps convert to miles, how many calories I've burned, and how many of the steps were in the "moderate walking" range. Oh, and it keeps each days' numbers in memory for seven days.

"Seven days ..." (Couldn't resist.)

Anyway ... I need a pedometer because I want to know how close I get to the "10,000 steps a day" health advice.

I've never been much on exercising. I don't lead an active lifestyle. I do walk Mickey and Lyla daily. But since starting Grandma's Briefs, I've definitely noticed I'm getting blogger's butt ... and a blogger's belly to match ... big time.

Bottom line: I need to get moving. And I want to make sure I'm moving as much as necessary to have the desired effect. Hence the pedometer.

Surprisingly, the first day I wore the pedometer, I came pretty darn close to 10,000 steps. My daily walk clocks in at nearly 3,000 steps. And it scores in the "moderate walking" range because I don't just walk it, I march it. To a military-style marching song. With words.

At risk of making you all think I'm a wacko -- if you don't already -- here's my daily march:

"I don't know but I've been told. (I don't know but I've been told.)

Mickey and Lyla are gonna get old. (Mickey and Lyla are gonna get old.)

I don't think that it will be. (I don't think that it will be.)

Cuz they go on daily walks with me. (They go on daily walks with me.)

Stay young. (Stay young.)

Not old. (Not old.)

All the way home. (All the way home.)

Five, four, three, two, one ... We're done!

All at a fast, four-count beat. Shouted. In my head. (I'm not THAT wacko, to be marching and shouting out loud all around the neighborhood. Although Jim's convinced if I did it aloud, the dogs may fall in and we'd be quite the spectacle. Maybe even end up on YouTube. To which I say: Uh, no. I'll keep my marching song to myself, thank you very much.)

So my marching walk gets me about 3,000 steps. I fit in the other 7,000 the first day by doing my daily doings -- adding a few quick jogs in place along the way to amp up the count, much to Jim's amusement. (I told him "Thank God we've been married nearly 30 years! I could NOT do such things with a new mate!" One of the perks of longtime marriage, I readily admit.)

The first day, I hit 10,307. By 9 p.m. Which was good because I'd told Jim I would not be going to bed until I hit 10,000.

Converted by my nifty new pedometer, 10,000 steps is four miles, at my average stride. If 10,000 steps (four miles for me) supposedly maintains one's weight, my goal now is to walk FIVE miles a day in order to lose the blogger's butt and belly. Which means I gotta add about 2,500 more steps to my day.

The second day I had my pedometer, I didn't wear it. I knew in advance that most of my day would be spent sitting in the car driving to my mom's then sitting at the table eating the Coldstone Creamery cupcakes I bought her and my sister in honor of their birthdays. (Happy birthday, Mom and Debbie!) No use wearing the pedometer for such limited activity.

The third day (the day I'm writing this) I marched a little farther with Mickey and Lyla, traipsed up and down the billions of stairs in the house and yard a little more than usual. I figure one or two whirls around the yard each day (it's a big yard,) and I'll be at my goal.

Now I just need to get some of those groovy New Balance shoes that work the butt and thighs while you walk. (Not the funky "rolling, rolling, rolling" Skecher ones.) My blogger butt and belly will be gone in no time!

Question is: How well can I march while donning butt-working -- and balance-threatening -- workout shoes?

I'm crossing my fingers that the answer isn't that I can't, that I actually end up falling and busting not only my butt, but a leg or two in the process.

For if that happens, I certainly won't have much use for my nifty new pedometer.

Photo courtesy Flickr/_Pixelmaniac_

Today's question:

How many steps or miles do you think you walk each day?

Photo replay

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Lyla and Mickey after a day of partying on the patio with dog-loving friends.

July 17, 2010

I do believe that's a heart they've formed between them, in more ways than one.

(Oh, and do note that even in sleep, Lyla's ear does not go down!)

Today's question:

If you could pick one famous person to be your neighbor, who would you want living next door to you?

Just walkin' the dog(s)

Most of my friends are pretty active gals. They regularly work out at the gym, fitness boot camp or other similarly strenuous locations.

Not me. I walk. With my dogs. Same time, same route, same five out of seven days each week.

Here are some highlights of our daily fitness routine:

Out the gate and ready to roll, with Mickey in the lead and Lyla working on the "focus" command.

Now she's got it, periscope ear up and all -- proof that she's focused! (Keep an eye on that ear throughout; it does not go down!)

On the road ...

... past the open area where the deer and the fox like to roam.

Up the hill to the house where the maniac dog of questionable breed rushes the chain link fence, providing the best arm workout of the trek as I try to force the dogs to maintain at least minimal composure. (It doesn't usually work.)


Back down the hill again.

Trit, trot, trit, trot (with a tangled leash, evidence that composure was lost on the way down the hill).

This is the house of the man who hates Mickey ... and Lyla ... and me ... and every other living being (except his grass, which I think he manicures with scissors).

Up the next big hill ...

... where wondrous views await ...

... of ... Walmart and its busy parking lot ... at 9:30 on a weekday morning! While K-Mart, across the street, sports a nearly empty lot. (Poor K-Mart.) Okay, not the greatest of views, but if you turn the other direction, you get ...

... ta-da! Pikes Peak! This is the view we appreciate most.

Even Mickey can't get enough of the natural wonder. (Lyla can't get over the empty parking lot at K-Mart.)

While standing in the same spot, we need only glance slightly to the left for a full view of Cheyenne Mountain, with NORAD deep within. Well, it used to be the home of NORAD but now they've gone and moved it to a totally unsafe -- in my opinion -- location, with just bits and pieces left deep inside the mountain. But that's another story, for another time and featuring fewer photos.

Continuing on our way, with me searching the field where the fox den is located, ready to provide a detour if a fox comes our way.

Past the house where the nice man likes to smile and yell across the street, "Who's walking who? Ha, ha!" (Like I've never heard that six hundred and fifty-two trillion times before. But that's okay cuz he's nice ... and he thinks it's funny.)

One more view of Pikes Peak ...

... then we're homeward bound.

Ah, home sweet home!

The dogs make sure the coast is clear: No squirrels. No birds. It's a go.

And we're back where we began.

Fitness mission accomplished!

Sure, there are no pushups, no pullups, no plank positions involved. But the yanking of the leashes this way and that way while avoiding fox, squirrel, deer and passing vehicles (which are like crack to Lyla, who's having a difficult time giving up the habit) is more than enough workout for this grandma.

Mickey and Lyla, on the other hand, are ready for more. They dash off into the backyard the second the gate is opened, scaring the cuss out of each and every robin, wren, mourning dove and squirrel who had the gall to relax in the shade, eat from the bird feeders or splash in the water while the dog patrol was out making its neighborhood rounds.

Today's question:

What's your exercise routine?

Fave photo of the week

Brianna brought my granddog Hunter over for a visit this past week so he could play with Mickey and Lyla for a bit. After an hour or so of running around in the yard, the trio decided to hang out with me while I worked on the computer.

This is what I saw each time I glanced over my shoulder:

Left to right: Mickey, Lyla and Hunter.

Today's question:

Dogs and cats live for their naps, and I recently read that one-third of American adults nap on a typical day. Do you take naps?

My answer: I don't nap, not even on weekends, although I probably should. In fact, since being laid off from my full-time job more than a year ago, I've taken exactly ONE nap -- and I was sick. It's not because I'm high energy and don't need to recharge; it's because I feel guilty for not being productive. (Yeah, I got issues ... or so I've been told.)