Friday, February 28, 2014

Good taste in books

The large dog, Atticus, has a best friend. It’s not a chihuahua. No, they won’t allow it. It’s Tilly, the half-sized golden retriever that lives with our friends Greg and Heather. Once she stayed overnight and the two canine numbskulls woke up at 3 am to wrestle. For the rest of the night. Nobody slept. The chihuas were crabby. Sue was crabby. I was out of town.

We left Atticus and Tilly at the house a few times, unsupervised by humans. We didn’t know Tilly had such refined taste for hardcover books. Later, I learned she ate her mama’s brand new Madonna art book, even before she had a chance to read it. The day she got it.

One day, I came home to find the two had masticated two apropos books:
1.     What Pete Ate, from A to Z, (Really!), by Maira Kalman
2.     Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them, by my friend Mary Cappello

They also chewed the edges of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a world atlas, P. Allen’s Smith’s Garden, Cousteau’s Whales, and two coffee table books of gorgeous historic plant art called Flora and The Pressed Plant. Finally, they branched out to gnaw a Anne Lamott paperback that belonged to our neighbors.

I think they had a good time.

If we compare this to chihua carnage, George has unraveled zippers out of two expensive sleeping bags, has gnawed breathing holes in various comforters, and generally shredded one soft fleece that must have felt awesome on her gums over and over and over. It looks like Swiss cheese, and I threw it out so Tiny Dog would not get her head trapped like she did one scary moment in the duvet. I can’t even talk about it. I almost vomited seeing her neck stuck, flailing. I got her out, somehow, and then sewed those apertures shut, which were there to help you guide the comforter into the duvet corners. Her head is that tiny.

Wren is a good girl, never shreds anything besides her stuffed toys. Though once I caught her absent-mindedly nibbling the corner of the already chewed Flora. Wren!, I said, Wren, what the hell? She looked at me, and realized what she did. Total chihua brain lapse. I am not sure what got into her. The scent of others’ slobber?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter sun

The windchill is -15 out now.  I am just home from going to the city arboretum to stand in the indoor tropics with my friend Amelia.  We entered the double doors into the glassed-in, three story heaven of plants and humidity, and stood, sighing with relief.  At one point, Amelia stopped in a shaft of light and said, I am going to stay here awhile.  We watched fat orange koi float below the waterfall and bright bursts of canaries drink from the leaves of orchids.  We talked about we were moving into the over-sized terrarium.

When I got home, Wren was in the sun on the couch, in her own shaft of light. She tends to follow the path of sun across the floor, and I relent, place a blanket on the floor for her little sleeping sun nest.

Here we are on the couch in the beam.

Pause, pet. Repeat.

As usual, I am having a hard time winding down from work.  Like most days, it’s GO and quadruple tasking and the stack of appointments running a little behind, so my heart cranks up and I forget to fully exhale for the entire shift.

When I was young and dated a vet, I didn’t understand why she poured herself a couple of fingers of iced vodka each day when she got home.  I am 43 now, and get it.

But Wrennie has the right idea. Enjoy the beam, take a load off.  She doesn’t work a stressful job. Well, she doesn’t work at all.  Except buoying me each day.  She makes intense eye contact, touching her paw to your hand, insisting that you stop and pay attention. Look at ME.

Ok, Wren. Little lady, let’s sit back, soak up the rays, m’dear. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The end result

My last patient of the day on Friday involved me blow drying the floofy tail and hindquarters of a handsome, long-haired, blue merle chihuahua. He was there for his regular spa things: nail trim, anal sac expression. All with a muzzle, though, for he was of the land shark category. But what surprised me, as I lifted his tail to express his glands, was that he just got ready, braced himself, planting his tiny feet firmly, head forward, uncomplaining, set for the usual but brief discomfort. Like he was saying, Oh just get it over with.

My mother used to tell me there were things I would have to do no matter how much I didn’t want to. As a kid I never believed her, and secretly thought I’d find those loopholes. But of course, mothers are right. Things like mammograms, taxes, cutting the summer grass, taking out the garbage, and eating fiber. 

Bike path graffiti: O, you stab my heart.

For Tiny Dog, her list of I Wish I Didn't's include: getting a sweater on, waiting to only get two meals per day, being held for a nail trim, and being tricked into eating lettuce, thinking it was something actually delicious.

The reason I was blowing drying the fancy pants of this small dog was that anal sac expression can catch you off guard. (Ask any vet how the stuff has catapulted into his/her hair at least once.)  And so, the secretions we’ll call them, ended up in his pretty tail and leg fur.  He then submitted without complaint to the butt clean and the hair dryer. The muzzle came off, he shook off the recent events, and when set on the floor, trotted happily back to mom.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thanks, Jessica!, for the share.

Chihua + wheelchair + best friend fancy chicken? WELL, YEAH, people!

I love it so much I might pass out.

The best part of my day

It’s starting to snow, and it’s deceptively languid and pretty: slow flakes ambling down. I’m weather obsessed, so I know what’s coming, 5-7”. I am supposed to do two acupuncture house calls this afternoon. We’ll see. I miss my ancient Subaru on days like this.

I am starting my day, like most days: tea in the kitchen, on the loveseat, looking out at the backyard and our bird feeder, with Tiny Dog under a blanket on my lap. I feel her breathing; she’s fast asleep. She doesn’t know about the snow picking up, how it will be deeper than she’s tall.

Juncos are the main bird around the feeder right now: on it, below it, back to the shrubs, then back to the feeder.

A picture of the yard in summer, to get me through. Those sunflowers in the center are accidentals, grown from the feeder's messy eaters, the feeder now hidden by blooms.

And here comes Wren, who’s scared of the slick kitchen floor, so Sue put runners down (that Tiny Dog will pee on, but as you know, I have given up on this).  She’s scared of so much, but mostly noises: thunder, of course, but even a spoon clanking on your bowl. Or a falling cell phone off the side table, or a magazine on your lap. When I walk her and a truck drives by, she goes flat to the ground-rigid, and we have to all pause until the truck is gone.

Some mornings I have all three girls on my lap as I drink my tea. I call this The Best Part of My Day. I sip, I pet, I watch the birds around the feeder.

The snow is picking up. I am going to check the online radar, then go fill the bird feeder. Tiny Dog just woke up briefly, with a big sigh and an eyeball blinking at me from the blanket.  I could curl up with her right here, on this small couch, small dog and me.